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May 22, 2018

The lava striking the sea is gorgeous — and can be deadly

Lava spilling off the southeastern edge of the island of Hawaii is producing a noxious haze where it hits the seawater. Made out of hydrochloric acid, steam, and shards of volcanic glass, the gas is hazardous to anyone who breathes it. But while the mixture is dangerous, it shouldn’t put many people in danger.

The noxious fumes are called “laze,” which volcano experts say is way less peaceful than it sounds. The stuff forms when lava hits the cool ocean, almost like water on sauna rocks — if the steam that sizzled off had acid and glass in it. The more lava, the more laze. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen laze floating over a spot on Hawaii’s coast, according to Robin Andrews for IFL Science. So scientists have had time to study...

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