Explosion in Hawaii volcano could be first of larger blasts

10 May, 2018, 11:13 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Hawaii's Kilauea could erupt explosively this month, scientists say

A wide area could be potentially impacted by the thermal region outlined by the USGS as a high danger zone, according to Maiclaire Bolton-Smith, senior leader of research and content strategy for Irvine, Calif. -based catastrophe modeler CoreLogic.

USGS scientists in Hawaii have been monitoring the lava lake throughout the eruption and say the level of the lava lake has been dropping over the last several days and continues to drop late on Wednesday.

Scientists said the occurrence of an explosion or multiple explosions would be contingent on a rock fall within the volcano's inner tunnel or conduit - and there have been frequent rockfalls so far in this eruption - once the magma in that tunnel has dropped to meet the ground water, creating steam.

U.S. Army National Guard First Lt. Aaron Hew Len takes measurements for sulfur dioxide gas at volcanic fissures in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said all 1,900 residents of the Leilani Estates and Laipuna Garden areas, around 25 miles (40 km) east of the crater, had been evacuated.

Despite the activity, Leilani Estates residents were allowed back into their subdivision again today, from 7 a.m.to 6 p.m., to retrieve items and check on their properties.

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Some residents have refused to leave because of fears their homes will be looted.

At a Wednesday evening press conference, Hawaii Gov. David Ige reported that a geothermal energy plant is quickening its removal of stored flammable gas. He said it would be "very hazardous" if a volcanic vent were to open under the facility where the fuel is stored.

He says the plant expects to finish removing the gas by the end of Thursday.

The missing lava began re-emerging on May 3 at the surface in Leilani Estates, oozing up through cracks in the ground and consuming homes, cars and roads.

A large explosion in Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on Wednesday may mark the beginning of more violent, explosive eruptions that could spray rocks for miles (kilometers) and dust nearby towns in volcanic ash and smog, the US Geological Survey said.

"If an explosion happens, there's a risk at all scales", said Donald Swanson, a USGS volcanologist.

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Those forces would emit "ballistic projectiles" - as small as pebbles or weighing up to several tonnes.

Kilauea is one of the most active and well-monitored volcanoes in the world.

On Tuesday, police went door-to-door to evacuate residents near two new vents emitting risky volcanic gases in Hawaii.

The vents emerged on Tuesday near the spots where lava has been pouring into streets and backyards for the past week. Ensuing lava flows forced the evacuation of roughly 2,000 residents. Police followed up with personal visits.

The new eruptions brought to 14 the number of vents that have opened since Kilauea started spraying fountains of lava as high as 300 feet (90 meters) into the air.

The agency reported that 104 acres are now covered in lava and a total of 36 structures had been destroyed.

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