Hawaii braces for worse lava flows from erupting volcano

13 May, 2018, 00:23 | Author: Jason Torres
  • The Ecuadorian volcano Tungurahua spews lava and ash in Cahuaji about 80 miles south of Quito in February 2016. Authorities raised the alert level from yellow to orange after the volcano increased its activity and projected a column of ash 3 miles high

Now, the USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory is warning that the crater at the summit of Kilauea has been undergoing changes and could begin spewing ash, gas and rocks weighing several tons over the next few weeks.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said crews at a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak accelerated the removal of stored flammable fuel as a precaution on Thursday.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which includes the crater and surrounding region, announced Wednesday that it will close Friday in anticipation of the possible explosive event. "This is three football fields going down", Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, said.

"It's just disgusting. You can't breathe in there", said evacuated resident Robynn Stagg, 58, who drove through the thick, orange sulfur dioxide haze earlier this week in a failed attempt to check on her home. There were no eruptions overnight, but the O'Neal said the situation is still unstable.

Authorities previously ordered almost 2,000 residents to leave the neighborhoods in and around the vents in the mostly rural district of Puna. But so far, the sequence of events seems similar to explosive eruptions that took place at the volcano in 1924.

Scientists say active eruption of lava within the Leilani Estates remains paused.

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Ongoing volcanic activity for days now has already destroyed dozens of homes.

"The earthquakes that we get at volcanoes can tell us an very bad lot of what the magma is doing as it's moving through the rocks", Johnson told CBC News. "We know it is a distinct possibility".

Warnings that Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could shoot boulders and ash out of its summit crater are prompting people to rethink their plans to visit the Big Island. "Life and safety is what's most important".

Steam and gas rise along the edge of Kilauea's summit crater. "Once a new batch of hotter, gassier magma makes it to the surface we might see larger, higher eruption rates". When the water hits the lava, it also steams.

That explosion killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days. If another blast happens, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

What followed was a flurry of earthquakes as huge volumes of magma - the term for lava beneath the surface - drained back through deep-underground passages that carried the molten rock far downslope.

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