Lava Evaporates Hawaii's Largest Lake in a Matter of Hours

Lava flow from Fissure 8 enters Kapoho Bay, Hawaii
Lava flow from Fissure 8 enters Kapoho Bay, Hawaii

Last Friday, Green Lake, also known as Ka Wai a Pele, was Hawaii’s largest freshwater natural resource. Today, it’s nothing but a memory.

Lava began seeping into the 400-year old lake over the weekend, resulting in a massive tower of steam, as the water evaporated. Once a popular swimming hole for tourists and locals that was 200 feet deep, it has now essentially vanished.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Drew Kapp, a geography instructor at Hawaii Community College, according to Hawaii News Now. “I’ve never even heard of anything like that happening before.”

According to Kapp, some people believe that the basin was one of the first places Madame Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, came to visit. Legend has it that she bathed there when she first visited Hawaii.

"It's really a culturally significant place," Kapp said. "A lot of people think that she may be returning to the place where she first came."

Green Lake isn't the only natural resource claimed by lava in recent days.

On Sunday night, lava hit the ocean off Kapoho. Residents fear Kapoho Tide Pools and a fish pond are gone.

"It's wiping out the island as it is," said Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator. He added, of lava covering parts of Kapoho, "That's a pretty precious part of the island."

Kapp says that although Green Lake will be missed, he believes that residents have come to accept and even respect the loss.

The lake, likely named for the color of its water, reached depths of 200 feet.

"It makes sense, if this is where Pele first visited to bathe, maybe she just decided to return," Kapp said.

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