Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Volcano observatory warns of further 'explosive eruptions' in Hawaii

At Kīlauea when the lava column drops below the water table groundwater may come into contact with with magma or hot rocks causing violent steam explosions Hawaii's Kilauea volcano expected to bring more destruction
Ray Hunter | 12 May, 2018, 21:25

The volcano began spewing lava at around 9pm last Thursday night (local time), forcing hundreds of residents on Hawaii's Big Island to evacuate.

Kilauea, which is one of the world's most active volcanoes, also threatens to begin a series of explosive eruptions within days or weeks that could form huge clouds of volcanic smog, or vog, and hurl boulders as big as small cars.

In April, floods on Kauai Island made travelers nervous.

Two subdivisions were ordered to evacuate last week after lava oozed from cracks in the ground, burning down some two dozen homes.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park closed Friday, May 11, 2018, until further notice due to ongoing seismic activity and the anticipated explosive steam event and possibility of rock and ash fall at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano.

Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe says the pentane was moved to an industrial park some 30 miles (48 kilometers) away from the Puna Geothermal Venture.

Charles Mandeville, the volcano hazards coordinator for the US Geological Survey, pointed to six "massive" explosions at Kilauea in the past few thousand years. "If you're near the crater, within half a mile, you could be subject to ballistic blocks weighing as much as 10 or 12 tons", Donald Swanson of the Obervatory tells The Washington Post.

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He would not estimate the likelihood of such an explosion, but said the internal volcanic conditions are changing in a way that could lead to a blast in about a week. "Lots and lots of tremors", said Cindy Conda, whose house lies just east of Leilani Estates where 27 homes have been torched by lava in the past eight days and whose residents have been moved out.

Neal says fresher, hotter lava could emerge because magma has been moving down Kilauea's rift zone toward the area where the volcano is erupting. That kind of explosive eruption was last displayed by the volcano almost a century ago.

"As much as ... lava itself moves slowly, there are other hazards as well, such as the gas [and] the ash", said Johnson, who previously worked at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at Kilauea as part of a research fellowship.

If the volcano blows its stack, communities about 2 miles (3 kilometers) away could be showered with pea-size rocks or dusted with nontoxic ash, said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. They evacuated their home on May 3, and only found out it was destroyed when a relative went back to get her personal belongings. There are now 15 of the vents spread through the Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said crews at a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak were accelerating the removal of stored flammable gas as a precaution. It was removed early Thursday. "We don't know what's going on underground".

"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.

People should also be cautious around the water: once lava interacts with saltwater, it produces hydrochloric acid, which is toxic.

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