Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could spew fridge-sized boulders, experts warn

Alfred Osborne
May 12, 2018

Rachel Smigelski-Theiss is among those who have shifted gears.

The CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the agency that markets Hawaii to the world, said Kilauea is being monitored around the clock to provide the public with the best information. Now they've cancelled their trip. Now it is lava from Kilauea volcano on the Big Island. When the molten rock reaches groundwater levels, pressurized steam can cause an explosion, shooting rocks and ash miles away from the crater.

The U.S. Geological Survey says that a sudden eruption could happen when the lava flows increase from its crater down the face and as magma flows below the water table. "You do not need to be beneath something that weighs 10 tons when it is popping out at 120 miles per hour (193 kph)".

Though it is not uncommon for the Kilauea volcano on the southern shore of Hawaii's Big Island to erupt, the recent explosion is the worst encountered in decades.

The Leilani Estates residential area remains in greatest danger, with 15 volcanic fissures so far having destroyed 36 structures, a lot of them homes, and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 residents. This could create steam pressure that would cause the volcano to explode. The volcano park closed indefinitely Thursday night because of the risks.

But for 1,500 of its 2,500 years as an active volcano, Kilauea has been predominantly in "explosive eruption" phases.

"We are looking at the possibility of a steam-driven eruption at the summit, which is not as large as magmatic eruptions that we see at volcanoes like Mount St. Helens", Krippner says. Scientists say lava levels in the crater are going down, meaning it might be clogging and building up for a mighty blast.

Officials stress residents of the Kilauea summit area should learn about the hazards of ashfall, stay informed about the status of the volcano and area closures, and review family and business emergency plans.

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Mr Mandeville would not estimate the likelihood of such an explosion, but said the volcano's internal plumbing could still prevent an explosion. Fifteen vents are now spread through the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige mentioned crews at a geothermal vitality plant close to the lava outbreak accelerated the elimination of saved flammable gasoline as a precaution. It was eliminated early Thursday.

"Why did they allow us to purchase residential property, figuring out it was a harmful scenario?" They are hoping these gifts will make her happy and encourage her to protect their homes.

Authorities have also allowed the almost 2,000 evacuees to go inside their homes and pick up their belongings under the warning that they could have to rush out once again. At the same time, tourism is the island's biggest industry and people's livelihoods are dependent on visitors coming, he said.

"Everyone comes here", she said.

"You really can't hurt Pele", he said.

This event - beautiful, destructive, frightening - also presents a moment for all of us to appreciate the enormous power of the forces that never cease shaping our planet. Communities about 2 miles away could showered by pea-size rock fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

This is what likely led to the ash explosion on Wednesday!

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