Lava from Kilauea volcano crossed a remnant of Chain of Craters Road yesterday in the Highcastle area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The road was isolated by previous lava flows in the 1990s.

Thousands flocking
to see Big Isle
lava show

Kilauea volcano has been spewing
lava for 19 years, but usually
not as much as now

Associated Press

VOLCANO, Hawaii >> Lava from Kilauea volcano covered another stretch of isolated road and formed new channels into the Pacific Ocean yesterday, scientists and other observers said.

"I've never seen so many cascades stretched out over such a considerable distance," said David Jordan, a local photographer and artist who has been visiting the lava flow before dawn nearly every morning since it reached the sea late last month.

"She's leaking all over," said Steve Young, another self-proclaimed "lava junky" from Volcano Village.

In recent weeks the lava has attracted thousands of visitors -- up to 2,500 each night -- to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island as it breaks out along a wide slope and occasionally pours into the ocean, triggering fires and altering the park's landscape.

Authorities say no buildings or major roadways are in danger from the lava, which has been pouring out of Kilauea for more than 19 years -- usually at a much slower pace.

Park rangers say viewers generally are not in danger of being overtaken by lava, but other dangers lurk near the flow, including gas emissions, potential mini-explosions of lava and sprays of scalding water when it enters the ocean.

Signs warn park visitors against getting too close to the lava.

Visitors' cars have been clogging a lava-shortened road in the park to watch the hot lava pour into the Pacific Ocean along the expanding shoreline.

Several acres of lava and black sand have been added to the park since the flow first stepped up in May.

For the first time yesterday, lava oozed across a stretch of Chain of Craters Road that had been isolated by separate flows several years ago.

According to a report from scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors Kilauea, three clusters of lava falls were plummeting from cliffs up to 45 feet above the ocean.

"Plopping sounds came when large drops of lava free-fell into the water," said a report on the survey's Web site. More fingers of lava were approaching the edge, the report said.

Much of the lava is flowing through tubes under the cooled surface. Jordan said one lava tube burst open with a loud pop over the water early yesterday, blasting its rock crust into the air and pouring out a heavy stream of molten lava.

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