Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hawaii Volcano: Explosion Ash Cloud Reached 10,000 Feet, Authorities Warn Of Fast-Moving Lava

A small explosion from the Halema'uma'u crater in Hawaii's Kilauea volcano at about midnight local time created an ash cloud that reached up to 10,000 feet, according to an alert from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
More explosive events like the one on Friday could make for minor amounts of ashfall downwind at any time, and volcanic ash emissions remain high. 
In addition, fast-moving lava crossed a road and threatened dozens of homes, prompting National Guard helicopters to airlift residents from Hawaii's lower Puna area. 
Hawaii officials warned residents in affected areas to shelter in place Friday night and await further instructions. The lava forced the closure of Pohoiki Road, cutting off at least 40 homes, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said.
    The agency urged residents near Highway 137 to be ready for voluntary evacuations should the threat grow.

    "With fresher, hotter magma, there's the potential that the lava flows can move with greater ease and therefore cover more area," US Geological Survey geologist Janet Babb told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.
    Resident Ikaika Marzo said the lava flow has left him and his neighbors rattled. It sounds like 10 or 20 jets taking off from your backyard at the same time, he told the affiliate. 
    "It's been like hell," he said. "It's like huge grenades going off. It shakes the whole community."
    Volcanic gas emissions at the summit remain high and additional explosions are possible at any time, the observatory said.
    The US Geological Survey also reported Saturday that a 5.0 magnitude earthquake occurred on Big Island Saturday evening. The USGS said the epicenter was near Kilauea.

    Fissures, or cracks in the ground, are opening up, with a 22nd one reported Friday, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory said. In a Saturday morning status report, the observatory said the rate of lava has increased between Friday and Saturday. 
    Fissure 17 is fountaining, the observatory said, and fissures 16 through 20 have merged, forming "a continuous line of spatter and fountaining."
    The lava flow from these fissures is very active and is advancing at rates up to 300 yards per hour, the observatory said. The flow from fissure 18 is moving more slowly, with fissure 17 moving even slower. 
    Lava has destroyed 40 structures so far, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense. 
    On Thursday, an eruption from the volcano's summit shot ash and smoke 30,000 feet into the air. Authorities handed out almost 18,000 masks after Thursday's explosive eruption from the Kilauea summit.

    The sulfur dioxide was thick afterward near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, enveloping the area in a dense fog that smelled of rotten eggs. In Pahoa, the earth sounded like it was cracking wide open as lava spattered and exploded from fissures.
    US Geological Survey scientists said they expect the eruptions to continue.
    "At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent," the agency said.

    The Latest on the eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island (all times local):

    Hawaii officials are checking with residents to see if they need help as fast-moving lava approaches a mostly rural part of the Big Island.

    Hawaii County Civil Defense said Friday that police, firefighters and National Guard troops are securing the area and stopping people from entering.

    About 40 homes are now isolated in the newly affected area east of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens — two neighborhoods where lava has destroyed 40 structures over the past two weeks.
    Officials are using helicopters to assess how many people are still in the newly threatened area.
    County officials had been encouraging residents in the district to prepare for potential evacuations. The county is now asking people to stay put and wait for further instructions.

    Wendy Stovall of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says geologists are trying to pin down the precursory signals for Kilauea's explosions to give people better warning.
    A large explosion at the summit this week spewed a 30,000-foot (9,100-meter) ash plume into the sky.
    Scientists believe steam and hot rock explosions will continue.
    Scientists say that a sample from a fissure in a subdivision shows that fresher, hotter magma could produce faster lava flows.
    As of Friday, 22 fissures have opened and 40 structures have been destroyed.

    A volcanologist says there's just no telling when Kilauea's volcanic activity will subside.
    Janine Krippner of Concord University in West Virginia says much of what is happening is below the earth's surface on Hawaii's Big Island, making it tough for experts to say for certain.
    Charles Mandeville of the U.S. Geological Survey's volcano hazards program says Kilauea has produced similar eruptions several times in the past 2,000 years.
    Ash coming out of the volcano's summit can be a nuisance for area residents, though people are unlikely to be at risk as the park surrounding Kilauea has been closed and evacuated.
    Mandeville says a larger hazard is lava flowing and hot, toxic gases coming out of open fissure vents in the middle of housing and infrastructure.

    No comments: