Erika Owen
January 04, 2017

On New Year's Eve, a popular viewpoint in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tumbled into the ocean. The section of the 26-acre lava delta was called the Kamokuna ocean entry, one area where lava flows into the waters below.

When hot lava enters the sea, it creates unstable slabs of volcanic rock—referred to as a delta. Hawaii Magazine reports that this particular region housed a number of cracks running parallel to the coastline, which had been monitored since October 2016. This kind of collapse isn't uncommon, according to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and there are ample signs around the park warning visitors to take caution when exploring the area. All of the deltas are monitored closely for changes.

The area was closed off when the collapse occurred and there were no injuries, but park rangers reported having to chase five visitors who slipped into the restricted area back to safety. Fifteen minutes later—in the exact area the rogue travelers were attempting to explore—the massive delta fell to pieces. Hawaii News Now reported that the falling rock caused waves that reached the top of the cliff, with steam and rock shooting hundreds of feet in the air.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the park opened an alternate viewing area on Tuesday. (The old one cannot be restored for obvious reasons.) The new viewing area is relatively remote, but can be found through a series of on-site signs that designate safe lava viewing areas.

You can check out footage of some of the lava spewing into the ocean above, but the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park also caught some of the event on camera:

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