Coast Guard enforcing safety zone around lava entry point to the ocean

Lava Update May 19, 2018
Published: May. 20, 2018 at 1:15 AM HST|Updated: May. 20, 2018 at 10:16 AM HST
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PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two lava flows are now pouring into the Pacific Ocean from the Kilauea eruption.

The flows are dripping into the water on the southeast side of the island, in the vicinity of the Mackenzie State Park.

It's a beautiful sight that could come with the hazardous effects of a new concern: Laze.

Civil Defense officials say laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean. The change in temperature creates hydrochloric acid and steam. Within the steam, fine glass particles may be dispersed through the air.

Officials say laze is hazardous, and can result in lung, eye and skin irritation. Laze travels through the air and the plume is dispersed with the wind. The spread of the plume may change at a moment's notice.

It is always safest to observe lava flows from appropriate areas and lookouts as designated by officials. With the Kilauea eruption in Puna, officials are asking the public to stay out the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens areas and avoid sightseeing.

For mariners, the U.S. Coast Guard is closely monitoring the area the lava is flowing into the ocean.

There is a safety zone stretching 300 meters in all directions from the lava ocean entry point.

"All waterway users should be aware of the hazardous conditions associated with such an event. Getting too close to the lava can result in serious injury or death," Lt. Cmdr. John Bannon, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu waterways management lead said.

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This story may be updated.

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