Molten Lava

One of the most active volcanoes in the world can be seen at Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, where the Kilauea volcano has been discharging lava into the Pacific Ocean continuously for more than thirty years. The lava flows at 1100 degrees C, and forms lava tubes for several miles as the lava pours down the slopes of Kilauea and eventually over  sea cliffs into the ocean. Considerable care is needed as the sea cliffs are unstable. On my first visit to Hawaii, the day before I arrived on a flight from Auckland, New Zealand, twenty three acres of lava shelf broke away and disappeared into the sea, and the area was then rendered off limits by the park authorities. A year later, I returned when the volcano was particularly active, and walked in the late afternoon for an hour and a half to reach the active zone. As the light quickly faded after the tropical sunset, the lava glowed more and more strongly. Huge steam plumes rose from the ocean as the hot lava heated the sea water. It was one of the most beautiful and fascinating natural sights I have ever seen. Later I walked back in moonlight to the roadhead, totally alone in the eerie silence, picking my way across the trackless lava desert.