Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Photo Information

Lava bubble burst and littoral cone on active delta, Kilauea Volcano
Photograph by T.N. Mattox on March 9, 1994
Two bubble bursts explode simultaneously as a consequence seawater mixing with lava in a lava tube beneath surface of a lava bench. Because of the confined conditions in the lava tube, explosive pressures build up as water, heated by contact with molten lava, expands instantly to steam. The explosive energy of the steam is sufficient to blast a hole through the top of the tube and shoot lava onto the surface.

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Updated: 2 June 2000 (SRB)