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Old 05-12-2018, 11:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Kilauea Readies To Roar!

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN1IC27J

MAY 11, 2018 / 12:40 PM / UPDATED 5 HOURS AGO
Hawaii braces for worse lava flows from erupting volcano
Terray Sylvester

Quote:
PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) - More destructive lava flows could soon hit Hawaii’s Big Island as the Kilauea volcano erupts, posing a greater threat than oozing magma that has so far destroyed dozens of homes and forced thousands to evacuate, scientists said.

As a lava lake at Kilauea’s summit drains inside the volcano, magma is running underground. It could burst to the surface as large, fast-moving and intensely hot lava flows and produce higher levels of toxic gases, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge Tina Neal said.

“What will take a turn for the worse in terms of hazard is if hotter, fresher magma makes it to the surface, and that could be what is coming,” Neal told a conference call on Friday. “Once a new batch of hotter, gassier magma makes it to the surface we might see larger, higher eruption rates.”

Fifteen large cracks or fissures have opened on the eastern flank of Kilauea since the volcano erupted eight days ago. The volcanic vents have oozed relatively cool, sluggish magma left over from a similar event in 1955. Fresher magma could now emerge behind it.

In addition, Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, 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.

Geologists expect new lava outbreaks in or around the hard-hit Leilani Estates area in the southeastern Puna district, about 20 miles (32 km) south of Hilo, where 27 homes have been destroyed and all 1,900 residents have been evacuated.

Local residents got a text message alert at 11 a.m. on Friday warning them they could have little or no time to evacuate in the event of future eruptions.

“We are telling people to plan for the worst. They should have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C,” said Roann Okomura, a county official who is helping run one of the shelters set up for evacuees.

“I GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE”
Ron Peters, 59, knew it was time to leave his home in the Opihikao community, 2.6 miles from Leilani Estates, when fruit trees and other vegetation began to die in the rotten-egg-smelling clouds of sulfur-dioxide gas.

“When you start seeing ferns go brown overnight, it’s like, ‘Wow, I gotta get out of here,’” said Peters, sitting at a Red Cross evacuation center at a sports center in nearby Pahoa.

His wife refused to leave and stayed to care for their dogs and chickens.

He went back for her on Thursday, fearing she and the animals would be dead. One of the dogs was having trouble moving but his wife was still alive. He set his chickens free.

“The gas fumes were just too much,” he said, sitting at a baseball diamond with his dogs tied beside him.

While locals contend with lava and gas on the ground, explosions at Kilauea’s summit some 25 miles (40 km) to the west were dusting communities with ash that irritated eyes and breathing.

South of Leilani Estates, in the Kalapana-Seaview neighborhood, residents are on high alert as the air quality is low and there are very few ways out of the area if an evacuation is ordered.

“There are some pretty level-headed, balanced people here who are trying to lead normal lives. But we also don’t want to be stupid,” said Cindy Hartman, 68, who lives in the Kalapana-Seaview neighborhood.

Volcanic smog may be blowing hundreds of miles from Kilauea, with people on the streets of state capital Honolulu, around 210 miles (340 km) northwest on the island of Oahu, complaining it was “very voggy” on Friday.
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...-miles-n873316


Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators for miles
Experts warn residents to steer clear: "You don't want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it's coming out at 120 mph."
by Associated Press / May.11.2018 / 8:58 AM ET / Updated May.11.2018 / 9:20 AM ET

Quote:
PAHOA, Hawaii — If Hawaii's Kilauea volcano blows its top in the coming days or weeks, as experts fear, it could hurl ash and boulders the size of refrigerators miles into the air, shutting down airline traffic and endangering lives in all directions, scientists say.

"If it goes up, it will come down," said Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey. "You don't want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it's coming out at 120 mph."

The volcano has sputtered lava for a week, forcing around 2,000 residents to evacuate, and destroying some two dozen homes and threatening a geothermal plant.

Scientists note that as long as people stay out of closed areas of a national park around the volcano, the possible explosion won't be deadly.

But the added threat of an explosive eruption could ground planes at one of the Big Island's two major airports and pose other dangers. The national park around the volcano announced that it would close indefinitely starting 10 p.m. Thursday because of the risks.

If an explosion does happen, a summit blast could also release steam and sulfur dioxide gas.

Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures — including 26 homes — since May 3, when it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles east of the summit crater. Fifteen of the vents are now spread through the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said crews at a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak accelerated the removal of stored flammable fuel as a precaution on Thursday. The Puna Geothermal Venture plant had about 50,000 gallons of pentane.

No one lives in the immediate area of the summit but communities up to two miles away could be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

The problem is the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea is draining fast, about 6.5 feet per hour, Mandeville said.

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

"This is a huge change. This is three football fields going down," Mandeville said.

The fear is that it will go below the underground water table — another 1,000 feet further down — and that would trigger a chain of events that could lead to a "very violent" steam explosion, Mandeville said.

At the current rate of change, that is about six or seven days away.

Once the lava drops, rocks that had been superheated could fall into the lava tube. And once the lava drops below the water table, water hits rocks that are as hot as almost 2,200 degrees and flashes into steam. When the water hits the lava, it also steams. And the dropped rocks hold that steam in until it blows.

A similar 1924 explosion threw pulverized rock, ash and steam as high as 5.4 miles into the sky, for a couple of weeks. If another blast happens, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

The small, aptly named town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about three miles from the summit.

Avani Love, 29, moved to the Big Island about a month ago from Maui with her four children. They evacuated their home on May 3, and only found out it was destroyed when a relative went back to get her personal belongings.

While saying she's sad to have lost her home, she also feels a sense of renewal brought on by Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, to correct overpopulation of the island.

"Everyone comes here," she said. "When you have that, it's Pele's way of clearing house and restoring the place. There's beauty and also darkness."
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