Dangerous lava haze called ‘laze’ is rising in dramatic plumes around Hawaii — here’s what it looks like

laze hi volcanoMario Tama/Getty Images

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano isn’t just spewing lava into the air anymore. That lava is flowing into the water, leading to a dangerous concoction called laze. 

Laze — a combination of the words lava and haze — is the product of a chemical reaction that happens when molten, 2,140-degree-Fahrenheit lava hits the ocean. The sea water gets boiled, creating a messy mix of hydrochloric acid, steam, and tiny glass particles.

The noxious plumes of laze are extremely dangerous for people to breathe. Hawaii’s civil defense is sounding the alarm to residents, warning that laze can cause lung damage, eye and skin irritation, and even death in serious cases.

Take a look at how it forms and why it’s so hazardous: 

Lava began dripping into the water around Hawaii’s Big Island on Saturday and Sunday.
USGS/Handout via REUTERS

The laze started rising around the same time that the Kilauea volcano eruption claimed its first serious injury: a man sitting on his third-floor porch got lava-bombed and was hospitalized with a shattered leg. 




Laze is created when ocean water comes into contact with volcanic heat. The water evaporates, which leads magnesium salts to form and mix with the steam.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

“Seawater must be boiled almost completely dry before magnesium salts form,” according to the USGS.

When the salts come in contact with the steam, together they create dangerously corrosive hydrogen chloride. It can be deadly when inhaled in high doses.
USGS/Handout via REUTERS

Hydrogen chloride can create a fluid buildup in the lungs, called pulmonary edema, which can cause serious chest pain, coughing, and fatigue. Even sniffing a little bit of the gas can irritate your eyes and skin, and make it hard to breathe, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

See Also:

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