Kamokuna ocean cliff collapses, cutting off spectacular lava hose

Kamokuna ocean cliff collapses, killing spectacular lava hose

KILAUEA VOLCANO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A breathtaking display of Madam Pele's power came to an equally spectacular end Thursday afternoon.

Authorities with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say a team of experts was assessing an area near the Kamokuna lava entry when a massive chunk of the ocean-side cliff collapsed.

The collapse brought to an end the stream of molten lava known as the "lava hose" that had attracted thousands of visitors to the park over the last several weeks.

"They were in the process of setting up a camera to record the growth of the crack that has been widening over the past few days when the collapsed occurred," said Janet Babb, a geologist with HVO.

After hiking into the park, geologists say they were only near the ocean entry for a few minutes before the cliff collapsed without warning. The cliff had become increasingly unstable, scientists say, with the crack that resulted in the break growing as wide as 33 feet before it actually broke off.

No one was hurt during the collapse. In the moments before it happened, surveyors said they could hear grinding noises coming from the crack, and that part of the cliff was actually moving before it fell completely into the ocean below.

Geologists say that lava is no longer visible, though a constant steam plume and explosions from rock splatter indicate that it is still flowing into the sea.

"There's a lot of spatter that's being thrown upward from the explosive interaction with hot lava and cool seawater," said Babb. "But while they were out there they could not see any red lava."

The remaining portion of sea cliff is approximately 100 feet long and 16 feet wide, though geologists say it appears to be highly unstable and could collapse at any time.

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