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VIDEO UPDATE: Delta Collapse Closes Kamokuna Ocean Entry

Posted January 1, 2017, 04:12 PM HST Updated January 3, 2017, 11:30 AM HST

A large section of the 26-acre lava delta formed by the 61g lava flow collapsed into the ocean around 2:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, launching showers of volcanic rock into the air and creating a flurry of large waves that eroded away a portion of the older sea cliff and viewing area.

As a result, the Kamokuna ocean entry within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will remain closed today as park rangers and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists survey the area.

Although park rangers temporarily closed the Kamokuna lava viewing area last night, five visitors ducked beneath the white rope closure line and made a beeline for the coastal cliffs around 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Eruption Crew Ranger Travis Delimont and a co-worker had to chase after them before they turned around. Within 15 minutes, the section of cliff where the visitors were standing crashed into the ocean. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park photo.

Rangers on duty New Year’s Day reported that the former viewing area is gone and that loud cracks continue to be heard throughout the unstable area.

Although park rangers temporarily closed the Kamokuna lava viewing area last night, five visitors ducked beneath the white rope closure line and made a beeline for the coastal cliffs around 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

Eruption Crew Ranger Travis Delimont and a co-worker had to chase after them before they turned around.

Within 15 minutes, the section of cliff where the visitors were standing crashed into the ocean.

A large plume of rock debris and gas emanates from the Kamokuna lava ocean entry within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, just moments after the lava delta began to collapse. NPS photo/Travis Delimont


“It was a really close brush with death for them,” Ranger Delimont said. “Luckily, they finally listened to us and turned around in time.”

The lava viewing area will remain closed until it is determined safe to reopen. The County of Hawai‘i also closed the Kalapana access to the park.

“Fortunately, there were no aircraft or boats reported in the area at the time of the collapse, nor were any visitors on the delta itself, which is closed for public safety,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Had anyone been close by on land, water or air, lives would have surely been lost.”

There is a temporary flight restriction of 1,000 feet above ground level at the Kamokuna ocean entry.

Lava deltas are extremely hazardous volcanic features and are formed when lava enters the ocean and builds new land on loose and unstable substrate. In addition to the threat of collapse, lava entering the ocean produces a highly a corrosive plume of hydrochloric acid and volcanic particles that irritate the lungs, skin and eyes. Visitors are strongly urged to stay out of closed areas and heed all posted warning signs.


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Weekly Newsletter



Ena Chamberlain Holy crap JasonJanuary 01, 2017 04:39pm
Jason Fernandez Holy ish!January 01, 2017 04:40pm
Jamie Robison Ingrid HillJanuary 01, 2017 04:52pm
Quézia Rogers JeffJanuary 01, 2017 04:54pm
Lydia Quitugua Abe Van MeterJanuary 01, 2017 05:01pm
Joanne Albayalde Ponce Joe Albayalde Theresa Pankowski 😳 They closed Kalapana side too..January 01, 2017 05:04pm
Grace A Tanuvasa Mandy Lynn Lui Aileen PayneJanuary 01, 2017 05:07pm
Samantha Rush Omg! Mollie HalpernJanuary 01, 2017 05:20pm
Louise Thaell Why are people surprised at this?January 01, 2017 05:23pm
Shane Mahi'ai Moniz Haolez no learn. Ha!January 01, 2017 05:28pm
Christine Gregory Was that where you and Mollie were biking?January 01, 2017 05:32pm
Teresa Sanmiguel Please tell your guests AND your neighbor's to be careful -show them this.January 01, 2017 05:42pm
Theresa Pankowski Holy hell!!! That's crazy!! 😱January 01, 2017 05:44pm
Bryan Lowery 😯January 01, 2017 05:45pm
Heidi Holomua Exactly, Shane. E ha! SMH.January 01, 2017 05:50pm
Heidi Holomua Be ever maka'ala...This is Tutu Pele's aina...she gives it, and takes it, at will. She is not pau...January 01, 2017 05:52pm
Jamie Robison Eden CastilloJanuary 01, 2017 05:53pm
Brenda Reed Omg!!!January 01, 2017 05:53pm
Cookie Mc Crory There are many keep out signs and people ignore them !January 01, 2017 05:54pm
Maile Hamada It was bound to happen Happy no one got hurt!!January 01, 2017 06:17pm
Francis Chong We don't need any more signs. We just don't need anymore STUPID people like them.January 01, 2017 06:28pm
Rebecca Keim I hope the people who ran out there have sincerely thanked the rangers for saving their lives!January 01, 2017 06:36pm
Kat Sullivan Derek Del BuonoJanuary 01, 2017 06:53pm
Jo L. Akin As much as I would love to be close and see this marvelous work of nature I respect Pele and the rangers. Will just enjoy picturesJanuary 01, 2017 06:58pm
Kimberly O'Brien Clark Sarah-Beth SamanthaJanuary 01, 2017 07:16pm
Samantha Stone Yep. Fuck that shit.January 01, 2017 07:18pm
Godfrey Galigo Stupid asses should be fined!!!!!January 01, 2017 07:35pm
Lisa Bollinger Holly Bryan Powell you guys saw it just in time!January 01, 2017 07:43pm
Zoe Fitzgerald Chad Fitzgerald Jessica IvesJanuary 01, 2017 08:21pm
Art Martinez We almost went yesterday to bring in the new year.January 01, 2017 08:37pm
Mollie Halpern Wow!January 01, 2017 08:41pm
Mollie Halpern Looks like our timing was right on!January 01, 2017 08:41pm
Derek Del Buono Crazy! Could have been us! HahaJanuary 01, 2017 08:43pm
Mollie Halpern Yes. But we were respectful, obviously.January 01, 2017 08:44pm
Sarah-Beth Kosem Omg. Prob didn't help the stability having a ton of idiots walking on itJanuary 01, 2017 09:52pm
Sarah-Beth Kosem However, those 5 visitors? Darwinism. Assholes.January 01, 2017 09:54pm
Karen Doane Kalena JoshJanuary 01, 2017 10:01pm
Jordan A. Hine See and this is why I don't go out there ;)January 01, 2017 10:48pm
Michael Tagudin Shit for brains tourist have no respect for Pele. They think it's their right to ignore park rangers warnings and put their lives in danger to get them out of harms way.January 01, 2017 11:23pm
Holly Bryan Powell Omg that's fascinating and too cool!!January 02, 2017 02:45am
Jon Alford Let Darwinism workJanuary 02, 2017 03:37am
Judy Wight Evelyn Wight Jill Briggs um, maybe take a break from visiting Pele?January 02, 2017 04:23am
Jan Taylor Can't fix stupid.January 02, 2017 04:39am
Cynni Kovaloff Sierras George CorreiaJanuary 02, 2017 05:15am
Dianna Norris However,... maybe if we rounded up all the stupid people and invited them to tour those cliffs over there.... just saying 🤣January 02, 2017 06:06am
Stephanie Primmer Fick Steven FickJanuary 02, 2017 06:19am
Jessica Mills Julie Reed check this outJanuary 02, 2017 06:57am
Lettitia Kuloloia Maika Stupid people! They don't listen!January 02, 2017 06:58am
Julie Reed And here we are still alive.January 02, 2017 07:06am
Julie Reed And we had good Mexican food!January 02, 2017 07:07am
Jill Briggs I so wish we had been there!January 02, 2017 07:20am
Diane Bennett O'Callaghan -remembering the early AM hours in the dark we spent at the ocean entry - when Pele made it clear to us that we had been there long enough - we had to improvise our way back, as lava had flowed over the Park's markers in one area - Power and Protection; fortunately. We still had work to do, for the 'Aina.January 02, 2017 07:54am
Larry Thatch Wow Mike Martinez did they let you and the four other people go? 😉January 02, 2017 08:59am
Kamala Knight Tanya KnightJanuary 02, 2017 09:01am
Nickel LaFleur Kathi Chambers. Excitement and good news no one hurt. Hooray for the park rangersJanuary 02, 2017 09:34am
Kari Ranttila Swenson Aaron SwensonJanuary 02, 2017 10:14am
Sarah McCarthy Vanna -- check out this article!January 02, 2017 10:35am
Linda Archinal Brave rangersJanuary 02, 2017 10:44am
Evelyn Wight :-) It's closed for now. We will be safe and we won't put anyone else in danger like those fools.January 02, 2017 11:24am
Vanna Krawczyk Holy cow! What were those tourists thinking? They're lucky they were spared!January 02, 2017 12:16pm
Jacquelyn Paull Remember to respect Mme Pele. This is not Disneyland.January 02, 2017 02:25pm
Brandon Pacheco Emily StrongwaterJanuary 02, 2017 04:38pm
Sadie Legrande Cool. Remember Mother Nature will mess you up!January 02, 2017 05:26pm
Faith Goodman There are signs around there not to get close near the cliff of the ocean.January 03, 2017 01:03am
Lisa Molkner-Foord Janice BatesJanuary 03, 2017 02:39am
David E De Witt Ignore posted warning signs, then stupid is as stupid does. Fortunately stupidity barely avoided a disaster, and stupid thinks they are smart.January 03, 2017 05:39am
Michael Strasser Phyllis StrasserJanuary 03, 2017 04:07pm

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