Big rocks spewing from Hawaii volcano summit

Alfred Osborne
May 17, 2018

This area was evacuated shortly after the lava eruption began on May 3. These steam-driven blasts could send a 20,000-foot (6,100-meter) ash plume out of the crater, hurling 10-12 ton boulders up to half a mile (800 meters) and scatter pebble-sized rocks over 12 miles (19km), the USGS has said. It presents a new hazard for the islanders, who have already had to deal with volcanic gas and lava that forced the evacuation of almost 2,000 residents and caused the destruction of 37 homes in the past 12 days.

A massive plume of volcanic ash burst from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), prompting authorities to issue warnings about air quality and the likelihood of a major eruption.

Poland did not have an immediate height on the plume Wednesday since scientists were not staffing the observatory at the summit.

A shift in winds was expected to bring ash and vog inland on Wednesday and make them more concentrated, said John Bravender of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The observatory warned the eruption could become more violent.

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"At any time, the activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent", the statement said, although it added that activity might vary in intensity. They have been prevented from returning home by toxic gases, falling ash and fissures which opened in the ground and began spewing molten lava.

Lava flows at a lava fissure in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, on 12 May, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. "According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, there is no geologic evidence for a tsunami-generating natural disaster at this time". Geologists have warned that the summit could have a separate explosive steam eruption that would hurl huge rocks and ash miles into the sky. Big Island summer hotel bookings have dropped by nearly half from previous year, Rob Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitor Bureau, told journalists on a conference call. He noted that cancellations from May through July have hit at least $5 million.

The eruption of the Kilauea volcano has already destroyed houses, caused evacuations and threatened to wreak havoc on Hawaii's tourism industry.

Most of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed due to ongoing seismic activity and the possibility of an explosion at the summit.

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