The Lava Waterfall

On June 3, 2018, I took a doors-off dawn helicopter ride over the Puna flow. The pilot spotted something unusual and pointed it out to me. He was pointing to the spot where the largest freshwater lake in all of Hawaii had stood the day before. I say “had” because it was suddenly gone. The lava flow had snaked inside the Kapoho Crater and evaporated the lake completely. The lake was at least 400 foot deep in spots…so this was a big deal. It not only steamed off all the water…it then filled in the depression with lava. Green Lake was no more.

What the pilot spotted was lava that appeared to be forming a lava waterfall at the very end of the lake…it appeared to be flowing from underneath the new lava, over a small cliff and into a further depression of the original lake. It had already evaporated out all the water, but was still flowing to fill up that depression. When I finally spotted it clearly, I was amazed at what I was seeing…a “waterfall” of lava some 40 feet high by maybe ten feet wide…flowing at good speed and quickly filling up the depression.

I asked the pilot to bank and see if he could get me a clear shot of the spot. Glad he did, because it not only let me get a clear shot, it let me photograph the entire scene so I could later figure out what I was seeing. When I posted the photo to social media, I got one of the biggest reactions I have ever had to single photo. The photo ran on local television, The Weather Channel and other outlets. A few of the comments claimed it to be a fake…they had never seen anything like it. I then posted all the supporting photos and they all came back to me withdrawing their comments. No hard feelings with those folks…it is a unique photo and quite confusing when it is viewed with no context. This photo has now taken on a life of it’s own being viewed all over the world.

If you would like a this image in your home…to remind you of Green Lake or just to see the beauty of this unexpected event…email me at [email protected] and I will discount the metal image you are interested in by 20% off our gallery prices.


Don Hurzeler