Recent eruptions from Kilauea Volcano In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are a sight to see, but park officials urge visitors to be careful where they view the lava flows from.
The narrow streams of lava that reached the ocean last weekend are flowing several hundred yards outside of the park’s easternmost boundary, over private land closer to Kalapana.
Park officials do not encourage hikers to access the flow from the end of Chain of Craters Road. The trek is an extremely arduous and grueling hike over hardened lava, a trek of at at least 10 miles round trip. For information on observing lava from Kalapana, call the County hotline, (808) 961-8093.
“The best and closest place to observe a volcanic eruption within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at present is from Jaggar Museum overlook, and other vantage points at the summit of Kīlauea that provide views of Halema‘uma‘u Crater,” said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno.
During daylight, the robust plume of volcanic gas is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake approximately 100 feet beneath the crater floor. After sunset, Halema‘uma‘u continues to thrill visitors and park staff with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the plume as it billows into the night sky.
The park has increased staffing at Jaggar Museum to assist the many visitors drawn to Halema‘uma‘u, which has been erupting consistently since the crater became active again in March 2008.
Nevertheless, hundreds of visitors venture to the end of Chain of Craters Road, hoping to hike out to the coastal flow originating from Pu‘u ‘Ō’ō vent in the remote East Rift Zone, not realizing the distance or hazards involved.
“We don’t want people to be disappointed, and we especially don’t want people to get hurt,” Chief Ranger Magno said. “While the historic flows covering the end of Chain of Craters Road are well worth a visit during the day, hiking all the way out to the ocean entry from the park side and leaving the park to cross private property isn’t something we recommend."
According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, "The summit lava lake is deep within an ~160 m (520 ft) diameter cylindrical vent with nearly vertical sides inset within the east wall and floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. Its level fluctuates from about 40 m to more than 200 m (out of sight) below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. The vent has been mostly active since opening with a small explosive event on March 19, 2008. The surface level of the lava lake has remained below the inner ledge (~31 m or 100 ft below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater on October 29, 2012) and has not risen above and flooded the ledge since October 28, 2012. The lake level responds to summit tilt changes with the lake receding during deflation and rising during inflation."