Kilauea Lava Reaches the Ocean: On May 20th, lava from Fissure 20 had flowed all the way to the edge of the island and was falling into the ocean. The white plume rising from the ocean entry is known as "laze" - a contraction of "lava haze". Laze is produced when hot lava causes sea water to boil. That produces chemical and physical reactions that cause the plume to contain a mixture of condensed seawater steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny shards of volcanic glass. It is a health hazard for people in the immediate area or downwind. Photo by the United States Geological Survey. Click to enlarge.
In late April 2018, small earthquakes began shaking the East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano, located along the southeastern side of the Island of Hawaii. Soon, hundreds of small earthquakes had been recorded, and several fissure eruptions began fountaining lava and producing lava flows near the community of Leilani Estates.
In the weeks that followed, at least fifteen fissures were producing lava and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas. The lava flows had destroyed at least three dozen homes, damaged roads, downed power lines and covered over 100 acres with fresh lava flows.
Daily earthquake activity persisted through the weeks. The largest earthquake was a 6.9 magnitude event. It damaged many buildings on the island of Hawaii, triggered numerous landslides and new fissure eruptions, and cracked roads on the eastern part of the island. It was one of the most powerful earthquakes ever felt in the Hawaiian Islands chain.