Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

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Lava bubble burst results from sea water entering tube system, Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i
T.J. Takahashi on February 10, 1988
Lava bubble bursts are a relatively mild form of explosion that occurs when a lava tube at, or below sea level, fractures abruptly, allowing seawater to enter the tube system. As the infiltrating seawater comes into contact with molten lava in the tube, the water is heated to steam in an instant. This results in sporadic bursts of molten, dome-shaped lava sheets that expand rapidly as steam is released at the surface.

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Updated: 1 June 2000 (SRB)