‘Fire hose’ lat­est lava draw

Buildup of delta tak­ing longer than ex­pected

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By TOM CALLIS

A stream of lava con­tin­ues to gush out the side of a sea cliff in Hawaii Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park as the 61g flow strug­gles to re­build a delta of vol­canic rock that calved like a glacier New Year’s Eve.

The “fire hose,” as some call it, is the lat­est awe-in­spir­ing fea­ture of Pu‘u ‘O‘o’s erup­tion, which has en­tered its 34th year on Ki­lauea’s East Rift Zone.

The col­lapse took with it most of the delta built up by the ocean en­try that started last July and ex­posed a sec­tion of the lava tube just above sea level, al­low­ing the vol­cano to pump out molten rock straight from the side of the cliff in a con­cen­trated stream.

Tim Orr, Hawai­ian Vol­cano Ob­ser­va­tory ge­ol­o­gist, said the delta is tak­ing longer to re­build than ex­pected, sug­gest­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of rock was lost be­low the ocean’s sur­face.

“Usu­ally a delta be­gins to grow pretty quickly af­ter

“I’m sur­prised it’s still vis­i­ble,” Orr added, re­fer­ring to the lava stream.

About 21 acres of the delta and another 4 acres that be­longed to the older cliff dis­ap­peared, said Janet Babb, HVO spokes­woman.

Such col­lapses are com­mon as the is­land slowly builds new land on an un­sta­ble foun­da­tion.

Orr, who flew over the flow Thurs­day, said the col­lapse could have oc­curred thou­sands of feet be­low the sur­face.

“The whole flank, in a sense, slides away,” he said.

Shane Turpin of Lava Ocean Tours said he’s seen such ac­tiv­ity be­fore with past ocean en­tries, but the lava stream is prov­ing another op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote his busi­ness.

A video his com­pany posted on Face­book had been viewed nearly 6 mil­lion

times by Thurs­day.

“Every­one loves what’s go­ing on right now,” Turpin said.

“Peo­ple have a great time whether it’s a fin­ger of lava or is a gi­ant hose,” he added. “It’s all lava.”

Turpin said the is­sue for his op­er­a­tion is ca­pac­ity.

He said he has a per­mit from the De­part­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources that lim­its him to one boat, which seats 49, though there is eas­ily de­mand for two or three.

“Peo­ple have a great time whether it’s a fin­ger of lava or is a gi­ant hose. It’s all lava.” SHANE TURPIN

Lava Ocean Tours

Cour­tesy Lava Ocean Tours via Face­book

Lava streams into the ocean Thurs­day from Hawaii Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park.

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