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After Lava Delta Collapse, Park Service Opens New Viewing Area

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visitors looking to see active lava flowing into the ocean on Hawai‘i’s Big Island will have a new vantage point. Just a few days after a 26-acre lava delta crashed into the sea, the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has opened a new viewing area for the public.

The new area is 900 feet east of the flow, but the view hasn’t changed much. Visitors will still be treated to the spectacle of hot magma entering the ocean as waves crash against the newly formed land.

“The way that it’s set up with the new shape of the land, visitors have a pretty good dead-on view right into the lava cascading into the ocean,” said Jessica Ferracane, the Public Affair’s specialist at the national park. She says the new viewing area was created after a huge chunk of land crashed into the ocean on New Year’s Eve.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Credit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Eruption Crew Rangers Rob Ely and John Moraes work to reestablish lava viewing area at Kamokuna.

“We knew it was pretty much imminent. When there’s such a huge massive unstable piece of land, eventually it’s going to crumble and fall into the sea,” she said. “Lava deltas are built up on unstable substrate, loose rocks and sand, so they are prone to erosion.”

Just 15 minutes before the 26-acre delta collapsed, Ferracane said five visitors had wandered beyond the roped area. Luckily they were chased down by two park rangers and brought back to safety just in time.

“It is a risk. That’s why we stress that people pay attention to these closed areas and not ventures past the signs,” said Ferracane. “There’s a reason they’re there, they’re there to keep people alive.”

The Pu‘u ‘?‘? eruption has been flowing for 34 years and first reached the ocean back in 1986. 

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon joined HPR in May 2012 as an intern for the morning talk show The Conversation. She has since worn a variety of hats around the station, doing everything from board operator to producer.
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