HAWAII ISLAND – The Coast Guard announced today it is establishing a “temporary safety zone” for the navigable waters surrounding Kilauea Volcano’s active lava ocean entry at Kamokuna.
The USCG says the temporary safety zone will encompass all waters extending 300 meters, or 984 feet, in all directions around the entry of the lava flow into the ocean from noon March 28 to 8 a.m. Sept. 28.
The spectacle of lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean has spawned a small but growing industry of lava boat tours.
“Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey recommend 300 meters as the minimum safe distance to avoid hazards from the lava flow,” the USCG media release states. “The Coast Guard has taken action to ensure public safety because of the danger the unstable sea cliff, volcanic shrapnel, toxic gases and potential bench collapses pose to vessel traffic and the public. As long as lava enters the ocean, further sea cliff degradation, hazardous conditions, delta construction and collapse are likely to occur. These collapses occur with little to no warning and cannot be predicted.”
The last big collapse occurred on New Years Eve, when over twenty acres of a newly-formed lava delta vanished into the sea. The moment gave birth to a fascinating lava “firehose” that lasted a few months. A new delta is now forming at the lava ocean entry.
“According to the HVO,” the Coast Guard writes, “large and dense fragments ejected during delta collapses can be thrown in all directions from the point of collapse, including out to sea. Based on a review of nearly 30 years of delta collapse and ejecta distance observations in HVO records, a radius of 300 meters was determined as a reasonable minimum high hazard zone around a point of ocean entry.”
The USCG says a Broadcast Notice to Mariners has been issued via VHF-FM marine channel 16 about the safety zone. Entry of vessels or people into this zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Honolulu or his designated representative.
The Coast Guard announced it is also issuing a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to establish a permanent Safety Zone for this region.
“We solicit feedback from the public on this rule making process,” the USCG media release states. “You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2017-0234 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at regulations.gov.
USCG says written public comments will be accepted on or before 11:59 p.m. June 3, 2017. The Coast Guard says it strongly prefers comments to be submitted electronically; however, written comments may also be submitted (e.g. postmarked) by the deadline, via mail to Commander (spw), U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, 433 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96850.
The Coast Guard will also be holding a public meeting on the matter on May 08, 2017, at 5 p.m. at the East Hawaii County Building (Hilo) Aupuni Center Conference Room. The meeting will provide residents an opportunity to make oral comments.