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Lava lake attracting throngs of viewers on Hawaii's Big Island

At Kilauea on Hawaii's big island, a lake of orange-colored, white-hot lava is drawing crowds

A pool of molten lava is attracting thousands of extra nighttime visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, creating traffic headaches and potential health problems.

A lava lake, a term being used to describe a growing basin of orange-colored, white-hot lava at the summit of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, has become a huge draw.

After sunset each day, crowds are thronging the Big Island park, clogging normally ample parking.

When that happens, motorists must park at the Kilauea Military Camp ballfield. From there, it’s a one-mile walk to the Jaggar Museum observation deck, the nearest and best vantage point.

Visitors are urged to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and to bring water, flashlights, rain gear and binoculars.

One more caution: Visitors with respiratory problems as well as the very young and the very old should consider the health risk of viewing the phenomenon: Southerly winds can blow high levels of sulfur dioxide gas and volcanic ash over the popular viewing area. 

The most current air quality conditions are posted at the park’s Kilauea Visitors Center. People can also monitor the Hawaii SO2 Network online. Earlier this week conditions were listed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”  



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