Great gobs of fire: Flow from Hawaii volcano increases three-fold
"With the current inflation episode stalled, lava is being pushed out the Pu'u O'o vent and into the ocean," he said. During the past week, as many as 3,000 people per day have hiked across the flow to see the lava flow into the ocean on the rugged coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.Gale cautioned hikers not to get too close as the newly formed land is extremely unstable and a lava bench can break off and drop into the ocean without warning. Rangers reported that a section broke off and slid into the sea on Saturday morning. As it cooled, it caused a 100-ft circle of water to boil for several hours, then cooled lava disappeared into deep water, they said. When the molten lava enters the ocean, it mixes with sea water to form great white clouds of vog — volcanic gasses that contain a number of harmful elements.
Scientists at U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report that last week the vog created each day contained up to 4,500 tons of sulfur dioxide — triple the past average.
The roundtrip hike from the end of Chain of Craters Road to the active flow now takes about four hours, Gale said.
Visitors are warned to avoid entering steam clouds, said Gale, who said hikers should also wear closed shoes or boots, long pants, and carry flashlights and plenty of water.