Molten Lava Everywhere: Clean Up Unlikely

Molten Lava Everywhere: Clean Up Unlikely

Who says a sensational headline doesn’t bring in readers? Gotcha. Seriously, everyone who has an interest in Hawaii, fire, volcanoes or the like has been calling with the question “What the heck is going on over there?” as of late. If you’re not following the action through the National Parks Dept’s comprehensive web site, allow us to pass along a few words from our source at Hawaii’s Big Island visitor bureau. Who, we graciously note, stays up way too late writing down-to-the-last-detail releases, that we are happy to share with you, concerned readers. 

Kilauea—Hawaii’s active volcano—has been steadily (albeit slowly) releasing molten lava from the earth’s core on to land and sea for nearly 25 years. It’s been relatively contained in a single area since then, (relatively, mind you), adding acres upon acres to the island each year. 

On March 11th of this year, a plume of gas and steam began spewing from a vent inside the Halema’uma’u crater wall. It sent up a plume of brownish grey smoke nearly a mile high, filled with ash and sulfur. There has been geological evidence that both solidified and flowing, molten lava is now being ejected from the same vent. 

On March 19th a gas explosion in the crater wall tossed a few Volkswagen-sized stones over the top of the rim and in to parking lot, which thankfully was already closed. This marked the first explosive eruption at the volcano’s summit since 1924. 

And while the last hold-outs of the Royal Gardens subdivision were finally evacuated (mere days after Sir Anthony Bourdain shot his Hawaii segment there), they have been allowed to return to their slightly charred homes that resemble too-long-over-the-campfire marshmallows. 

Seemingly contained to a restrained chaos, the Volcanoes National Park is very much open for business. Molten lava is still flowing overland and into the ocean in the coastal region of the Puna District, at the end of Highway 130. Visitors can enter the park until 8 p.m., and walk out to the viewing area (which changes daily) until 10 p.m.

Our advice: The best way to see all this action is still by air. Give the folks at Blue Hawaiian helicopters a ring, and set up a tour of the crater and coastline, and you’ll see more than you ever would driving and walking. 

Check out www.bigisland.org/volcanoupdate for hot happenings (that was all too fun) with the lava situation.