Faster-Moving Hawaii Lava Gushes Into Sea, Spews New Danger

Annette Crawford
May 22, 2018

Residents on the Big Island face several threats Monday from Kilauea: In addition to the possibility of more eruptions, lava is oozing into the ocean, sending hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

On Saturday, the eruption claimed its first major injury when a man was struck in the leg by a flying piece of lava.

Late Saturday, a fast-flowing stream of lava pouring from one of the active fissures also reached Highway 137, which hugs the island's eastern coast. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.

The activity capped off a week of devastation, as The Washington Post's Kristine Phillips reported: Before dawn Thursday, a big explosion sent a plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky.

Scientists said the acid in the plume was about as corrosive as diluted battery acid. When the hot lava flow hits the water it produces acid fumes known as "laze" - lava and haze.

Steer clear of "laze": The Hawaii County Civil Defense warned residents not to go near the lava that is now hitting the ocean, as it produces hazardous "laze".

It is quite alarming that the lava is now entering the Pacific Ocean from the Kilauea volcano fissure.

Hawaii officials warn of danger of ‘laze’ as Kilauea volcano lava reaches Pacific Ocean
Hawaii officials warn of danger of ‘laze’ as Kilauea volcano lava reaches Pacific Ocean

The U.S. Geological Survey has released more video of the Kilauea eruptions, this time showing fountains of lava at Fissure 20.

Main roads have been shut down in some spots, and residents in the area have been evacuated. (His was the first reported injury from this month's eruptions.) Now, as lava pours into the ocean, officials have begun issuing warnings about the resulting "laze", risky plumes of hydrochloric acid, steam, and glass particles.

Kilauea volcano began spewing lava into the air in a residential neighborhood about two weeks ago.

Two thousand people have been ordered from their homes due to lava flows and toxic sulfur dioxide gas, levels of which have tripled in the last two days, according to civil defense officials.

Officials are warning people to stay away from areas where lava meets the ocean, as laze can cause lung, eye and skin irritation. The lava is moving inconsistently and with a frequently shifting rate of flow, according to the agency.

Since Kilauea began erupting on 3 May, around 40 structures - including two dozen homes - have been burned to the ground.

"If you get enough lava coming in, it'll start growing itself laterally to form a much more solid and coherent set of lava flow benches [or landforms]", said Bergantz. However, they stress that most of the Big Island and the rest of the state remains largely unaffected by the latest events.


Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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