Hawaii Kilauea Volcano: Map, Pictures Show Coastline Before and After Eruption

Hawaii has gained almost 700 acres of land due to the continuous eruption of the Kilauea volcano. The lava flowing into the ocean has added a patch of terrain to what used to be the edge of the island.

The lava started flowing from the volcano in May and has continued for more than two months, filling up the bay and covering popular surfing spots. By the evening of June 3, just about three weeks after the volcano started erupting, the lava had crossed part of the island and made it to the ocean where it started pouring into Kapoho Bay.

june 3 bay
Photo from 7 a.m. helicopter overflight on June 3, hovering offshore and looking up the flow front. Nearly all of the front was active and advancing; advance rates were estimated at an average of 250 feet per hour. USGS

By the morning of June 5, lavahad completely filled Kapoho Bay and was extending the coastline, according to the United States Geological Survey. Since then, Fissure 8, the most active fissure on the island, has continued to spew lava.

kapoho bay filled
By the morning of June 5, the Fissure 8 lava flow had completely filled Kapoho Bay. USGS

The lava has extended the coastline to a spot that was only ocean as of two months ago. The lava has created 690 acres of new "land" made of lava, according to the USGS. In addition to the extra land the lava has added, it's also inundated more than 6,000 acres of existing land and in the process, destroyed more than 600 structures, according to Hawaii Civil Defense.

acres map july 18
Map as of 10:00 a.m. HST, July 18. The south ocean entry area was obscured by laze (acidic steam plume), the southern boundary of the lava flow is approximate on this map. The lava created 690 new acres of land on the island. USGS

A map released by the USGS shows the portions of land that had lava flows just a few days after the eruptions began. The difference in the amount of land covered in lava between May and the more current map from July is striking.

first map out of hawaii
This map shows the locations of fissures and lava flow since May 3 in the order that they occurred in Leilani Estates as of 7:00 p.m. HST, May 8. USGS

The most recent structures that were destroyed were in Leilani Estates, a residential community, on the island. Those structures were near Nohea Street and were taken out by overflows from Fissure 8 Wednesday morning, according to Civil Defense.

A small new island of lava was created off of the coast as well. That island was possibly being fed by the lava erupting from Fissure 8 the same one that was creating the ocean entry points. The new island could be a "submarine tumulus," or lava crust that gets forced upward by underlying lava, according to the USGS. The island was small, less than 10 meters in diameter.

island of lava
A tiny new island of lava has formed on the northernmost part of the ocean entry. This photo of the small island was taken on the morning of July 13. USGS

The front of the ocean entry, indicated on the USGS map and shown in the photo below, has expanded so far that there are now several spots of lava entering the ocean across the whole front. This created a large lava haze, or laze, plume, containing hydrochloric acid and steam.Officials warned that the laze plume was dangerous and could cause irritation to the lungs and skin of anyone who got too close.

lava flow front ocean
Several lobes of Fissure 8 lava from Kilauea were entering the ocean along a broad front, with the southwestern edge of the entry shown here on July 18. USGS

In addition to the irritation the gas from the laze could cause, the actual point where the lava was entering the ocean remains incredibly dangerous. A tourist boat was hit by a lava bomb, or flying piece of lava, Monday morning during a cruise that got close to the entry points, injuring more than 20 people. The hot lava entering the comparatively cool ocean water can cause a violent reaction that can send lava and ash flying in all directions.