Hawaii residents shaken by tremors, brace for new lava outbreaks

12 May, 2018, 21:26 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • The Turrialba volcano spews smoke and ash in May 2016 in Cartago Costa Rica. Experts say it is the strongest eruption from the volcano in the past six years

Kilauea, the volcano that's been erupting on the Island of Hawaii over the past week, has already forced the evacuation of almost 2,000 people and the destruction of more than two dozen homes.

Scientists said Wednesday the risks of an explosive summit eruption will rise in coming weeks as magma drains down the flank of the volcano toward the area lava started erupting from fissures in a residential neighborhood last week.

In April, floods on Kauai Island made travelers nervous.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park around the summit was closed to visitors on Thursday, given risks of the first explosive eruptions in almost a century, which could launch refrigerator-sized "ballistic blocks" over half a mile (0.8 km) and send ash columns tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

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If volcanologists can better understand Kilauea and underlying reasons for its seemingly unusual behaviour, Johnson said it could help them better understand other volcanoes. "We don't anticipate there being any wholesale devastation or evacuations necessary anywhere in the state of Hawaii".

"This is three football fields going down", Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, said. The plant has been shut down, and workers are trucking away 60,000 gallons of flammable liquids. "You don't want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it's coming out at 120 miles per hour (193 kph)". Smigelski-Theiss says she's anxious potential flight disruptions would strand them on the island.

The receding lava lake resembles conditions seen before a major summit eruption in 1924, said Tina Neal, scientist in charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory. If it falls below the water table, water will pour onto the lava, generating steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower or rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases. Experts said an explosion wouldn't be deadly as long as people steer clear of areas immediately near the volcano. If another blast happens, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

Lava on Hawaii's Big Island has destroyed over 35 homes and other buildings. Fifteen of the vents are now spread through the Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods. Eventually, this may lead to an explosion that could shoot rocks as large as several tons up to half a mile away, pebbles several miles away and plume of ash up to 20 miles away. It was removed early Thursday.

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Two subdivisions were evacuated last week after lava oozed out of the fissures.

It would be "very, very hazardous" if a volcanic vent opened under the facility where the fuel is stored, the governor said.

The small town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the summit.

"I'm not too anxious about it because I've lived here so long and I've seen it go through lots of different episodes", Hughes said. When the water hits the lava, it also steams.

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"We want to make sure that everybody is still working and people have jobs to go back to", Birch said.

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