Lava flowing into the Sea

In January of 1999 a friend and I hiked three milesover a fresh lava field to watch the sunset where lava flows intothe ocean. We then hiked back by moonlight and flashlight. Thiswalk is rigorous and hot and has real danger if you don't knowwhat you're doing. Be sure you're prepared and talk to therangers before you go!

For more information about Hawaii's volcanoes, see theUS Geologicalsurvey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site.

The view of stream rising from where the lava flows into theocean from chain of craters road. We're about 8 miles away atthis point (in a car).

The lava flows from Pu'u 'O'o crater beyond the far ridge, whichhas been erupting since 1983. The lava now flows almost entirelyunderground down the black paths in the distance in lava tubes tothe ocean.

Examples of the kind of crunchy and sharp terrain we had to walkacross for three miles to get to where the lava flows into thesea. We then hiked back by moonlight and flashlight, which waseasier than I expected.

The view of the steam plumes as we approached the lava flow. Thesigns show the limits of safety. Things were quiet so we went alittle (but not much) beyond the signs.

Explosions occur when the ocean waves enter the lava tubes. Thispicture is from about 200 ft. away. If you look closely you cansee the red glow of the rocks thrown up by the explosion.

We took a chance (very dangerous!) and circled around to the edgeto get a look at a smaller, gentler flow off to the side. We wererewarded by this view from about 100 ft. The close-up shot iswith my 200mm zoom lens. We did not stay there long as people hadrecently died when lava shelves much like the one we werestanding on collapsed into the sea. A great honor to see glowing,flowing lava.

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