Lava flow reaches ocean

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The lava flow from Kilauea’s Puu Oo vent reached the ocean early Tuesday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

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The lava flow from Kilauea’s Puu Oo vent reached the ocean early Tuesday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

The flow, known as 61G reached reached the emergency access road inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at 3:20 p.m. Monday and crossed the road in about 30 minutes. At 4 p.m., the flow front was approximately 0.07 mile from the ocean.

Just a few hours later the lava flow had advanced to just within 100 yards of the ocean and at 1:10 a.m. Tuesday reached the ocean.

Ed Teixeira, Hawaii County interim Civil Defense administrator, said he expects an increase in people hiking out to see the lava now that it’s easier than ever to access.

But he cautioned the hike along the gravel emergency route is 6-8 miles roundtrip from a parking area on the Kalapana side.

“Take a lot of water, a lot of water,” he advised.

Hikers also should be cautious of additional hazards created from lava entering the ocean, including hydrochloric acid, he said.

“As a strong caution to visitors viewing the new ocean entry (location where lava meets the sea) for Flow 61G, there are additional significant hazards besides walking on uneven surfaces and around unstable, extremely steep sea cliffs. Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. Finally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates an acidic plume laden with fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs,” the observatory cautioned Tuesday.

The flow front is located in the park but the closest vantage point is the county parking area on the Kalapana side, Teixeira said.

The route was cut in 2014 over the former Kalapana-Chain of Craters Road as the “June 27” flow threatened to cross Highway 130 in Pahoa.

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Earlier lava flows from Puu Oo’s ongoing 33-year eruption had crossed the Kalapana-Chain of Craters Road before, burying it under layers of black rock.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald staff writer Tom Callis contributed to this report.

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