ENVIRONMENT
01/12/2015 06:06 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2015

Witness The Astonishing Moment Lava Spills Into The Ocean, Creating New Land

Creation is a beautiful thing, especially when it happens in front of your eyes.

In Hawaii, the Big Island's Kilauea Volcano has been constantly erupting since 1983, dramatically creating new land as lava falls into the ocean on the island's southern shoreline. Hawaii photographer Kawika Singson has taken some pretty big risks to show us just how mesmerizing that creation can be.

In the video above, which is part of a series Singson filmed with his GoPro over an eight-month period in 2013, Singson positions himself behind the dripping lava, looking out into the ocean, for a unique -- and extremely dangerous -- vantage point.

Rough waters usually pound the coastline along Hawaii Volcano National park, where Singson filmed. To approach the fiery flow is to risk being tossed into it by unpredictable waves, so Singson chose to film around sunrise, when the ocean is calmer. But before he could get his shots of red-hot lava pouring into the sea and clumping together in the cool water to form new land, Singson first had to traverse the lava fields and scale the fragile, charred cliffs.

According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the newly created land -- known as a lava delta -- may look stable, but can slide away easily if the unconsolidated lava fragment below can't support the weight. Singson says he walked lightly over such areas, constantly moving his feet so they didn't catch fire or fall through a soft spot.

"It was extremely difficult to get to," he told The Huffington Post. "The videos can only show you so much, but to actually be there, to feel the heat. ... The heat is one thing, but the gases are extremely toxic."

Singson, a Hawaii local who explores the lava and volcano at least once a week, outfits himself with a respirator when filming lava closely and wears long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect himself from burns. Although his rubber tennis shoes sometimes melt as he walks over the scorching grounds, he prefers them to fire-proof boots, in case he has to run from a collapsing area or a random combustion. The thin soles also help him more accurately feel the ground over which he's walking.

"You have to be on the top of your game out there," he said. "First of all, you have the ocean and the current, then you have the lava, then you have to worry about bridges collapsing and then you have to worry about the super-hot toxic steam. All those things are going on at the same time."

The 51-year-old photographer says he's been to the lava flow hundreds of times and has experienced a lot of close calls.

But it's worth the risk, he says, to share the volcano's beauty with the rest of the world.

"Sometimes, after a day of filming, I shake my head and think, man, that was pretty stupid to do what I just did," he said. "Still, that's not going to stop me from doing what I want to do."

And in case you need it spelled out for you: Don't try this at home.

HuffPost

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