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Marine Places

Hawaiian Lava Coast

One of the fastest ways for a coast to change shape is as a result of lava flow to the sea. On southeastern Big Island, new coast has been added intermittently since 1969 as a result of lava flows from satellite craters of the active volcano Kilauea. Lava from the Pu’u O’o crater flows some 9 miles (15 km) to the sea, where it cools and hardens to form land. This coastal landscape is a primitive scene of black beaches and dark cliffs made of rough, fractured lava. Plants begin to colonize newly formed areas of the coast within months of their formation.

Hawaiian Lava Coastzoom image
  • Pacific Ocean Central
  • Type Primary coast
  • Formation Lava flow into the sea from an active volcano
  • Extent 14 miles (20 km)
  • Location Southeastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, US
Hawaiian Lava Coast habitat mapzoom image