A lava delta in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park collapsed into the ocean on New Year's Eve, sending 22 acres of molten rock, steam, and debris crashing into the water, and giving some onlookers a close brush with death.
The Big Island lava flow where this occurred is called the Kamokuna ocean entry, and it is now closed to visitors. The park is set to open a new entry Tuesday.
"Those 40-foot waves that were generated from the breakoff started to erode the coastal cliff section, so a lot of the coast cliff area that was out there, the former viewing area, all of that fell into the ocean," Jessica Ferracane, the national park's spokesperson, told the Associated Press. "It's a very, very dangerous situation out there."
The dramatic collapse began around 2:45pm and continued over the next several hours, sending a billowing cloud of smoke over the shoreline, thunderous booming, and flashes of red as lava fell into the ocean. Around 7pm park rangers had to chase down five visitors who ignored official warnings and tried to get a closer look. Just 15 minutes after they returned to the designated safe zone, the cliff they were standing on crashed into the ocean.