Coast Guard enforces Lower Puna Safety Zone in vicinity of Kilauea lava flow

USCG File Photo

HONOLULU – The Coast Guard is enforcing a Lava Entry Safety Zone for the navigable waters surrounding the Kilauea Volcano active lava flow entries into the Pacific Ocean on the southeast side of the Big Island, Hawai’i in the vicinity of the Mackenzie State Park Lower Puna region.

“For mariners without prior limited entry approval, the safety zone encompasses all waters extending 300 meters (984 feet) in all directions around the entry of the lava flow into the ocean,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Bannon, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu waterways management lead. “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.”

As long as lava enters the ocean, hazardous conditions are likely to occur with little to no warning and cannot be predicted. The Coast Guard took action to ensure public safety because of the aforementioned dangers.

According to Hawai’i Civil Defense, lava entering the ocean produces laze, which is formed when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air. Laze health hazards include lung, eye and skin irritation.

In addition, ground deformation, seismic activity, newly formed lava delta or existing cliff collapses are all coastal hazards, including the potential for localized tsunamis along the coastline and out to sea. Based on a review of nearly 30 years of lava and ejection distance observations in the Hawaii Volcano Observatory records, a radius of 300 meters was determined as a reasonable minimum high hazard zone around a point of ocean entry.

Notification of any changes to the waterway safety zone enforcement will be provided to the public if the Safety Zone is changed or deactivated earlier than anticipated.

Enforcement of the Lower Puna safety zone began Sunday at 8 a.m.

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