Watch: 'Lava Boats' From Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Float Down Molten Rivers

The massive lava rivers on Hawaii’s Big Island are still gushing from an active volcano, and are now causing the land to collapse and float downstream. From a distance, the chunks of Earth that float down these lava streams look like boats, so scientists began calling them “lava boats.”

One gigantic lava boat was spotted in Kapoho, where an onlooker captured a video and shared it online. The video shows a chunk of land, about 20 feet by 20 feet, slowly drift down the lava stream, seemingly immune to the immense heat. After a few moments, the mass of land splits apart to show its glowing molten center and crumbles before disappearing into the volcanic stream.

Geologists from the United States Geological Survey also captured a 9-hour time-lapse video of the lava boats as they bobbed along on the lava in Fissure 8, a volatile crack in the Earth that has spewed many gallons of lava into the ocean. The lava boats have also been referred to as “lava balls.”

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall told HawaiiNewsNow that these chunks of land grow as they travel through the lava.

“They can roll around as they move through the channel and liquid lava will coat itself to the outside, making the lava ball grow as it moves along,” Stovall said.

“Smaller chunks of levee or cooler lava can also tack itself on, and the whole thing continues to grow. Imagine making a snowball by rolling it in snow. It's a similar, albeit much hotter, process.”

Residents of the Big Island of Hawaii have been dealing with the impact of the Kilauea volcano eruption for almost two months now.  

The lava boats are just one of the latest ways the massive volcano has changed the landscape of Hawaii’s Big Island. Ash and toxic gas have clouded the island’s air.

Lava has destroyed hundreds of houses and has burned through the habitats of local wildlife. 

0702-lava Molten lava flowing at seaside in Hawaii. Chunks of Earth that float down these lava streams look like boats, so scientists began calling them “lava boats.” Getty Images

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