USGS
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Photo Information



Tephra jet explosion and littoral cone on active lava delta, Kilauea Volcano
Photograph by L. Keszthelyi on February 23, 1996
A typical tephra jet at the edge of an active lava bench on the south coast of Kilauea Volcano. The airborne molten spatter and cooled lava fragments (collectively referred to as tephra) originate from lava exiting a tube and seawater disrupting the lava stream. Tephra jets are episodic events, usually occurring with each incoming swell or wave. The waves increase the interactive surface area of the lava by more than 10 times, which leads to sudden steam-driven explosion. The accumulation of tephra on the delta's edge is building a small littoral cone. The intensity of any one tephra jet is highly variable, making the area around a littoral cone extremely dangerous. In this photograph, a small pahoehoe lava flow is advancing toward the sea at the base of the littoral cone.



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Updated: 2 June 2000 (SRB)