Kilauea Volcano: Ocean Entry Deemed "Hazardous" as Dangerous Laze Persists

Best to keep away and let it do its thing for now.

by Josie Rhodes Cook

As the Kilauea Volcano continues to erupt, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the United States Geological Survey have a message for people in the area: Don’t swim in the ocean near the volcano.

An eruption in the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) continued Tuesday, as the Fissure 8 fountains spatter cone kept supplying lava to an open channel with small, limited overflows, the USGS reported Tuesday. “Lava is entering the sea this morning on the southern portion of the flow front,” an HVO status report stated Tuesday, and going near the ocean where the lava is flowing is particularly dangerous for a lot of reasons.

Lava from Kilauea flowing into the ocean at Kapoho Bay.


The HVO report specifically noted that the ocean entry zone “is a hazardous area,” and not just because it’s a bad idea to swim anywhere near where a volcano is erupting. Getting too close to an ocean entry on land or via the ocean “exposes you to flying debris from sudden explosive interaction between lava and water,” the report noted.

The land around where lava is entering the ocean through this channel is not particularly safe, or even stable yet. The lava delta is unstable, the HVO reported, because it’s on “unconsolidated lava fragments and sand.” This “land,” which is really just loose material, can be eroded away by surf, and the area could become unsupported and slide off into the sea.

Basically, you shouldn’t go near this ocean entry zone, even if you’re not headed into the ocean itself, because there’s a chance the “land” you’re exploring could wipe out into the ocean, and you’ll only have yourself to blame if you’re washed away with it.

The lava doesn't care if you want to go on a beach walk.

Flickr / macprohawaii

Additionally, when the lava meets the ocean and “interacts” with it, the combination creates “laze,” also known as a seawater plume full of hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles. These bits of acid and particles can irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs, so that’s yet another reason to stay away from Kilauea’s lava ocean entry point.

Kilauea and its lava have been doing all sorts of weird stuff lately. Lava balls have been spotted on the Big Island, and the steam rising off the ocean where the lava meets it can contain tiny shards of volcanic glass.

With the HVO and the USGS also urging people to stay away from this ocean entry point because it’s “hazardous,” these volcano-related phenomena should be enough to land it on your “steer clear” list.