David Griffing   |   Where lava meets the Pacific 2   |   geology   |   January 2009

As the boat passed close to the lava, Mookie yelled “This is life changing!”

 
Kim Negrich '11 enjoys the view of lava from the tour boat during the 2009 Hawaii geology J-Term.
Short-lived waterspouts appeared from the steam cloud generated by hot lava hitting ocean water.
Almost as soon as waterspouts appeared, they would dissipate. The lava-warmed ocean water maintained a steamy surface well offshore.
Streams of lava cascade into the ocean.
The small, steaming, black rock in the ocean (foreground) is a "floater"...a semi-hard lava blob that floats until completely cooled.
As darkness fell, the lava streams and adjacent steam clouds seemed to glow with greater intensity.
We departed the lava ocean entry at dusk.
 
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Lava entering the ocean is otherworldly! We watched small lava streams cascade down into the waves from the tour boat. Even 200 feet offshore, the lava raises the ocean temperature to about 100° F. Turbulence between cool ocean wind and the hot, sulfurous steam cloud caused small, short-lived waterspouts. Occasionally, the boat’s hull hit floating rocks with loud thumps! Small steaming blobs of lava temporarily float, due to still molten rock and hot gases inside the hard outer shell; very unexpected. Although a last minute addition, the lava boat tour became one of the course highlights.

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