Friday, August 6, 2010

~ Robust expansion of ocean entry lava benches ~ Coastal flat inflation continues ~

Two weeks straight of continual lava flows straight into the ocean area creating large lava benches and expanding both east and west along the older shorelines. I did not walk to the widest section of the new bench do to the intense fumes and growing instability of that area of the coast, but from a distance it appeared to extend south at least two hundred feet out into the ocean.
A Happy Pele Face ;)

The east/west progression in such a short time span is remarkable as well; on the most westerly end the molten pahoehoe advanced west down along, and below, the old sea cliffs about thirty feet in one hour while I was there, The flowing lava is creating new black sand ahead of itself along the way. This is true for both the easterly flow, which has progressed east beyond Fox’s Landing, and also the western shoreline flow front.

The wind was blowing the fumes offshore when I first arrived but a sudden onshore wind shift brought inland a thick super-toxic mix of super-hot steam, rock-glass fragments, hydrochloric acid and other noxious gases…. A proper respirator is absolutely essential anywhere near the ocean entry zones! I saw random tour groups walking all along the billowing lava delta zones (where they are essentially trapped between thick forest and fuming active lava benches), when the wind shifted on them they disappeared in a fog of toxins—that is bad and can kill you or destroy lung tissue among many other detrimental things… That area is NOT a place to be taking random tourists into period! These deltas, or benches of raw new land are being formed by the hour out into the ocean and along the shores; they are becoming rapidly unstable and prone to collapse without warning into the sea. A bench collapse can be very violent and create explosions, scalding mini tidal waves that may sweep inland – even up onto older stable land adjacent to a collapse. A bench collapse can also pull older, previously stable, sea cliffs with it –STAY AWAY from these new lava benches!!!

That said, all of the photos posted of the lava today were taken along the far west, and still stable, end of the new lava entry; well away from any new large lava benches… and I was using a 400mm lens for the photos that appear close up.You may have heard of Pahoehoe toes, well these are pahoehoe tongues ;)

Inland across the coastal flats I did not see any active lava breakouts, but sections of the areas adjacent to Kalapana Gardens were very hot and possibly even inflating. It was easy to identify exactly where the newly established lava tube systems were by degassing and strong heat waves emanating off the silvery lava.

The Hawaii County lava viewing area is actually a pretty nice show, particularly after nightfall. I took the images below from the viewing road last night after closing up my lava photo display booth down there (I don’t often get the time to set it up these days)
Click on the images to see the stars & Milky Way better ;)A silhouetted home in Kalapana Gardens with lava colors reflected up into the plumes from along the ocean entries just a short ways south.


  1. That was the shot I was looking to get the other night but it was cloudy, bravo Leigh!!

  2. Liegh, I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and have really enjoyed your stories and photos.

    I blog at an economics site called "The Bonddad Blog" and on Friday afternoons we usually take a mental health break. If you don't mind, I'm going to re-post your Stars over Gardens photo above with a link and recommend that our readers come on over and check out your blog. Hope that's OK.