Visiting Hawaii Island and hoping to see red-hot lava flowing into the Pacific? Sorry, but the ever-dangerous Mother Nature may thwart those plans.
Twenty-six new acres of Hawaii Island—a so-called “lava delta” formed by the latest flow of lava from an active volcano—collapsed into the ocean on Saturday, sending a plume of rock and steam soaring upward.
The collapse created large waves that caused older parts of the sea cliff, including a designated Hawaii Volcanoes National Park viewing area, to erode and wash away.
Five tourists had a “close brush with death” about four hours later when they ignored a rope barrier to get a closer look at the lava flow, Park Ranger Travis Delimont said in a news release. Delimont and a co-worker chased the visitors away less than 15 minutes before the cliff on which they had been standing crumbled into the ocean.
The area remains roped off. Rangers on duty reported hearing loud cracks beneath the surface, indicating ongoing geological changes. The area will not reopen until the remaining land is considered stable and safe.
A restriction on air traffic below 1,000 feet is also in effect.
Molten lava from the Kilauea Volcano made a big splash when it reached the ocean in late July for the first time in nearly three years.
Scientists from U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continue to monitor activity from the newest lava flow, called “61g.” Regular updates are posted on their website.