Sudden cliff collapse highlights danger of Kilauea’s volatile lava flow


A stunning sight at Kilauea volcano of a so-called firehose of lava pouring into the Pacific Ocean ended Thursday with the collapse of a large sea cliff.

This week, KHON2 has been reporting about the dangers of getting too close to the lava flow, because of a growing crack in the sea cliff.

Scientists told us the cliff could collapse at any time, and Thursday afternoon, it did.

Cascading sheets of lava creating explosions where the molten rock hits the sea spattering plumes nearly twice as high as the sea cliff itself.

Amazing footage captured by Russell Fry shows the stunning phenomenon up close.

According to park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane, a fire hose of lava has been a sight to behold over the last few weeks at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. “That pouring into the ocean is very unusual and to have it last this long and to keep growing in size is very unusual. It’s a really, really special and beautiful sight to see.”

Over the last few days large cracks in the lava rock made it extremely dangerous for anyone approaching by land or by sea. Grinding noises were heard coming from the hot crack which expanded to more than twice its original size in just a day.

Then without warning, a 98-foot-long portion of sea cliff broke off into the ocean.

Ferracane says fortunately the scientists who had just arrived were far enough away to be out of danger, but their camera captured the collapse. “Apparently a part of the sea cliff did fall off this afternoon, and created quite a big splash and waves.”

Lava is still flowing into the ocean, but the hose-like flow can no longer be seen.

Ferracane says even though that part of the cliff did break off, the area is still constantly changing, and park users need to heed safety ropes and signs at all times.

“There is a reason why there are closures in place, and it is for public safety and also for the safety of our first responders who might have to be on scene responding to any kind of incident that would happen,” she said.

This is the second large sea cliff that’s fallen into the ocean in just over a month. The last collapse happened on New Year’s Eve with around 21 acres of lava delta breaking off into the ocean.

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