The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) reports the active lava flow southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō continues to advance across the coastal plain on the southern flank of Kīlauea. The flow has spread beyond the base of the pali (cliff) of the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision; and is entering the ocean within the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The lava flow does not pose a threat to any residential community.
To maintain public safety and to preserve the emergency road or Highway 130, the County of Hawai‘i opened the emergency road to lava viewing since Thursday, June 30, 2016. Vehicular traffic on the emergency road is limited to local residents and emergency vehicles, and is being monitored by security guards posted along the route.
The following is an important excerpt from a recently published HVO Daily Update for October 5, 2016:
“Lava Flow Observations: The 61g lava flow, extending southeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō on Kīlauea’s south flank continues to supply lava to the ocean at Kamokuna. The easternmost of the coastal entries was active Friday, while the western one was inactive. Active breakouts occurred on the coastal plain about 2 km (1.2 mi) inland from ocean entry during the past week but appeared to be dying out as of last Friday.
Friday’s HVO field crew also noted that cracks running parallel to the coast have developed in the large, 5.2 hectare (12.9 acre) eastern delta. This signifies that the delta is becoming increasingly unstable and is ripe for collapsing into the sea. Hazardous delta collapses occur without warning and can trigger explosions of hot flying debris as seawater contacts newly exposed molten lava. See next paragraph for further cautionary information.
As a strong caution to visitors viewing the 61g flow ocean entry (where lava meets the sea), there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. In several instances, such collapses, once started, have also incorporated parts of the older sea cliff. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.”
While volcanic phenomena are captivating, please be aware of hidden hazards and be prepared:
- Viewing area hours are from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, with the last car allowed to park at 8:30 p.m.
- It is about 8.5 total miles round-trip from end of the pavement on Highway 130 to the lava flow and back. The flow can be seen starting from the parking lot all along the hike.
- The road is unpaved and surrounded on all sides by rough lava on private property. Public access is restricted to the graded roadway and viewers are asked to please respect private property and the rights of local residents.
- Restroom facilities are limited and lack running water.
- All members of your party should dress appropriately with sturdy, covered shoes, long pants and a hat.
- Be prepared for a long, hard hike including rain, wind, heat and dust exposure.
- Bring lots of water (2-4 liters per person), there is no potable water available.
- Bring a flashlight with fresh batteries for walking at night over the rough ground.
For up-to-date cultural and safety information, viewing area program interpreters are available daily from 3 PM to 9 PM at mile marker 24.5 near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park gate. In addition, up to 5 security guards are available along the viewing route to better support the large volume of visitors participating in the lava viewing program. Visitor counts on some weekends and holidays have been estimated as high as 3,500.
Our goal is to maintain public safety, protect the interests of Kalapana residents, and protection of the emergency road or Highway 130. We ask for your patience and kokua (help).
For daily eruption updates including the latest information on the currently active lava flow, please visit the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/
To better understand the risks associated with lava flow and ocean entry viewing, please see the following links: