Yesterday, I posted about the background to the trip my wife and I made to see lava entering the ocean from Kilauea Volcano’s Pu’u O’o vent. Today, I have a few more photos from the trip.
The Lava Ocean boat was a good-sized double-hulled aluminum boat and we were on the water around 4:30 a.m.. The trip out, in the dark, was uneventful and we arrived at the flow in dim, pre-dawn light. The bright lava glow cut through the darkness. Tiny figures materialized on the cliff top near the flow.
Once at the flow, the boat slowed and made passes back and forth. A couple of smaller boats were also around. Ashore, figures could be seen perched dangerously close to both the flow and the cliff edge. Several had gathered, with their cameras, on a raised knob of lava to one side of the flow. I hoped those photographers knew the risks they were taking. From their standpoint, they’d know they were near the edge, but from our vantage we could see that the knob they stood on was sharply undercut, a prime candidate to crash down at any time.
Our boat moved about, sharing time near the flow with the other boats, and providing views from different angles. It edged in close to shore, then away again. We could feel the heat from the lava. As daylight filled in, the drama of the glow ebbed, but more detail emerged – clumps of glowing lava tumbling down the slope, waves rushing ashore to explode into steam, and a steady river of lava flowing down the slope to the sea.
A helicopter from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) joined the scene, making close passes over the area. The USGS surveys Kilauea’s activity regularly and posts daily updates of the situation at the website below.
We were there an hour or so before heading back. The experience was everything we’d hoped, well worth the cost of the excursion. We were lucky that conditions had been good – not too windy and a quiet sea for that area. To top off the trip, on the way back we were joined, for a while, by a pod of spinner dolphins.
Today, the flow has widened and is putting on an even better show, but I’m happy to have seen what we saw, knowing I could check the situation tomorrow or the next day and find out that the flow has stalled, never to resume.