Sunday | April 26, 2015
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Magma Carta: New lava entry wows visitors

On Saturday, lava began cascading over 40- to 50-foot cliffs into the ocean.

Lava Ocean Tour’s Captain Shane Turpin said the ocean entry began a few days after another nearby stopped. This entry has lava coming in several distinct rivers, and the sight is better than last week’s lava flows.

“When people see this activity, a lot of emotion comes out of folks, yelling, screaming,” Turpin said, adding he often has to remind his passengers to put down their cameras and just look at the scene.

His tours, which leave from Isaac Hale Beach Park, take lava viewers to within 100 feet of the flow, he said.

That’s closer than lava seekers are likely to get on foot, at least if they’re trying to check it out from outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Civil Defense Administrator John Drummond said the county’s viewing area at the end of Highway 130 remains open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Hikers are not permitted to cross private property, which is what lies between the county’s viewing area and the ocean entry, Drummond said. The Parks and Recreation Department maintains the viewing area, Drummond said.

The hike from within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to the lava entry is long and arduous, spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said. She made a similar hike last year, with experienced hikers, and the hike was an eight-hour commitment for the 10-mile round-trip hike. Park officials were discouraging hikers from making the trek from the end of Chain of Craters Road to Puu Oo.

The best eruption view from within the park remains at Halemaumau Crater after dark, she said.

After sunset, visitors can see a “vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the plume as it billows into the night sky,” park promotional material said.

During the day, visitors can see the plume of volcanic gas being emitted by the lava.

More staff members are working at Jaggar Museum, where the parking lot often fills to capacity as dark approaches.

According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s eruption update, the lava lake’s height peaked Oct. 28, flooding a ledge about 100 feet below the crater’s surface.

For information on observing lava from Kalapana, call the county hotline at 961-8093.