Lava flows from Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea Volcano are running into the Pacific Ocean, creating clouds of a hot, toxic fog that has proven lethal in the past, CNN reports.
The lava haze, or “laze,” is composed of hydrochloric acid gas and tiny volcanic glass particles mixed together in a plume of hot steam. Low concentrations of laze can cause irritation to whatever part of the body it touches. It can form into clouds that drop acid rain similar to dilute battery acid, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows,” USGS states.
The U.S. Coast Guard has set up a Lava Entry Safe Zone Sunday to help ships navigate to safe landings away from the lava flows, according to CNN.
During the nighttime and early morning, winds typically push the laze out over the ocean, creating problems for ship crews that drift into its path. From mid-morning to late afternoon, trade winds run parallel to the coast or inland, potentially moving toxic clouds toward residential areas.
Mount Kilauea erupted twice over the weekend, once sending up a massive cloud of soot and ash that towered 10,000 feet over Big Island. Both eruptions caused about magnitude five tremors near the volcano’s summit.
The first serious injury from Kilauea’s recent round of eruptions was reported on Saturday. A man standing on his home’s third-floor balcony was hit by a lava spatter. The spatter hit his lower leg, shattering everything from the shin down, Reuters reports.
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