Hawaii volcano could shoot 10-ton 'ballistic rocks'

Posted May 11, 2018

Geologists say Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could erupt explosively and send boulders, rocks and ash into the air around its summit caldera in coming weeks.

Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and the threat of explosive activity will increase once lava drains from the summit of the volcano.

An explosive eruption could close down airline traffic and endanger lives in all direction. The national park around the volcano announced that it would close because of the risks.

"We know the volcano is capable of doing this", Mandeville said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1925, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years. "We know it is a distinct possibility". The volcano's internal plumbing could still prevent an explosion.

There are high levels of sulfur dioxide, which can cause headaches and irritation to the lungs and eyes if it's inhaled at higher concentrations, the University of Hawaii at Hilo says. "Out of the island's 4,028 square miles, only less than a 10-square-mile area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions in Puna is affected", a statement from the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak was accelerating its removal of stored flammable gas. All 50,000 gallons (189,270 liters) of pentane was expected to be removed by the end of Thursday.

"Why did they let us buy residential property, knowing it was a risky situation?"

On the other hand, they did build those homes on the slopes of an active volcano.

Lava has been bubbling out or spurting up through fissures in the ground around the residential area of Pahoa, forcing evacuations and destroying several dozen houses.

Avani Love, 29, moved to the Big Island about a month ago from Maui with her four children. "There's beauty and also darkness".

The image shows patches of yellow on the left side that mark hot areas, which are from Kilauea's summit.

This concern led to the latest warning from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory about the risk of explosions at the summit. But people have continued to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which includes the crater and surrounding region.

Scientists say the explosive eruption could occur even as the volcano continues to splatter and ooze lava out of its eastern flank into a residential area.

Kilauea has been in a near-constant state of activity for the last three decades, but it usually just leaks a little lava harmlessly into the sea.

In little more than a week, the top of the lava lake has gone from spilling over the crater to nearly 970 feet (295 metres) below the surface as of Thursday morning, he said. The lava levels in the lake are dropping because lava is spewing out of cracks elsewhere in the mountain, lowering the pressure that filled the lava lake.

"This is a huge change".

"I was going to raise my daughters here, but it doesn't look like it was going to turn out to be the scenario we hoped", Kealoha said. Halemaumau's lava lake is lowering to the level of the water table and this combined with the continual rockfalls into Overlook Vent could create a risky situation of pressurized steam below these rocks. It was probably caused by a nearby quake that dislodged rocks that fall into the lava lake, Neal said.

If the lava goes down to the groundwater level, the water will get heated up which will result in creating steam. When the water hits the lava, it also steams.

Rocks thrown up by a steam explosion are a big hazard. 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 (5 kilometers) around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

The tall, snow-capped volcano is more likely to have explosive eruptions because of its shape.