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lava cliff

Multiple rivulets of lava cascade down the cliff and into the ocean below.  Jagged chunks of basalt, broken off the cliff face, lie scattered at its base.  Every time a wave hits the lava, it sends a huge plume of steam billowing skyward.  The ocean begins to erode the cliff literally the second it is formed.  The waves pound the cliff relentlessly, continuously…

In several thousand years, this may become a beautiful black sand beach.  But for now, it’s best to stay out of the water.  Not only are there falling rocks, strong surf and dangerous currents, but the water may be a bit warm for your liking in some spots…



  1. Hands down my favorite lava photo so far. Earth, air, fire, water and mist; all at the same time, so very powerful!

    • Thanks Gail. Glad you like this shot. It’s definitely challenging to capture “the total lava experience” in just one image. Getting a pleasing amount of steam in the right places (not obscuring the lava or too much of the cliff), some wave action, and some sort of foreground–in this case the rocks at the base of the cliff outlined against the backdrop of steam–is a tall order.

      Getting that kind of shot from the edge of the cliff was difficult enough, but trying to get it while passing along the cliff in a boat getting slammed by the swells coming off the ocean as well as the rebound surge from the waves hitting the cliff and having no say in where the boat goes or how fast–ay, caramba!

      RPRT Photo

  2. That’s just amazing

    • Thanks Lyle. I’m thrilled that I got to see and experience this, and very happy to be able to share it with you and my other readers. 🙂

      RPRT Photo

  3. I lived on Hawaii for 11 years (on the Island of Oahu)…1979 through the 1980s.
    I remember, for a period there was (amost every night on the news) reports about the Royal Garden Subdivision on the island of Hawaii. One by one, the lava took the land and the homes back from the people who had moved there.
    And I kept wondering…..why would people purchase land and build homes in a place that they knew was in the path of volcanic eruptions? One night, the news showed a man standing on the roof of his house with a garden hose (and the slow moving lava was not far away). It was kind of funny to see a garden hose vs. lava, and kind of sad at the same time.

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your comments. Lots of incredible images of Royal Gardens online. Each time I visit The Big Island, I’m struck by the bravery–or is it stupidity?–of the people who are building homes in Kalapana right next to the most recent flows. Two sides of the same coin, I suppose.

      Jack Thompson’s house was the last one remaining in Royal Gardens, and it got swallowed up by the lava about 10 months ago. All gone…

      I have several friends who live in the Puna district, and they love it.

      As you know, people’s reasons for living in the path of lava are many and varied. Reminds me of the folks who live in Tornado Alley who would never live in California because of all the earthquakes…and the Californians who would never live in Florida because of all the hurricanes…and the beat goes on…

      RPRT Photo

      • Have to weigh the positives against the negatives. I guess it’s what you are most comfortable with. I would LOVE to live somewhere on the islands of Hawaii again. But I think I would have to sleep with one eye open if I lived in the path of a volcano and a potential lava flow. No. I wouldn’t be able to handle that.

      • Hi Mary,

        As you know, the lava in Hawai’i often moves slowly and with some degree of predictability…but not always!

        I’m with you. I couldn’t sleep well knowing a bright orange river of lava could come through the front door any minute…

        Which is why I’m moving to Molaka’i!

        RPRT Photo

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