Trump declares 'major disaster' in Hawaii following volcano's eruption

13 May, 2018, 00:46 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Hawaii Kilauea volcano could soon explode in once-in-a-century eruption

Scientists on the Big Island of Hawaii on Friday underscored their recent statements that the oozing magma, which has so far destroyed dozens of homes and forced thousands of people on the Big Island of Hawaii to evacuate, may not be as big a threat as the destructive lava flows that could soon hit the island.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued an orange alert Wednesday, warning that the "steady lowering" of the lava lake in Kilauea's Overlook Crater has "raised the potential for explosive eruptions in the coming weeks".

It's uncertain how big the explosions could be but scientists have said that Hawaii's Kilauea volcano appears to be mimicking behavior last seen in 1924.

Hawaii Governor David Ige has requested federal disaster assistance as he said a mass evacuation of the lower Puna District, where Leilani Estates is located, would be beyond current county and state capabilities.

A lava flow moves on Makamae Street after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

Neal said a chemical analysis of the lava that's erupted since last week indicated it's from magma that had been stored in the ground since a 1955 eruption.

"What we've already been seeing is that chunks of the surrounding vents are just dropping off into the lava and that's why we're getting these small explosions", said Jessica Johnson, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

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Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park closed Friday, May 11, 2018, until further notice due to ongoing seismic activity and the anticipated explosive steam event and possibility of rock and ash fall at the summit of KÄ«lauea Volcano. The national park around the volcano announced that it would close indefinitely starting 10 p.m. Thursday because of the risks.

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.

While locals contend with lava and gas on the ground, explosions at Kilauea's summit, about 40km to the west are dusting downwind communities with ash that is an irritant to eyes and breathing.

Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures - including 26 homes - since May 3, when it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of the summit crater. She's anxious potential flight disruptions would strand them on the island. "We really don't know for certain", he told reporters on a conference call.

As a result of that event, the lava lake that once existed there disappeared, though one returned in 2009. When the molten rock reaches groundwater levels, pressurized steam can cause an explosion, shooting rocks and ash miles away from the crater. If another blast happens, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

"My equivalent of this - and I'm from South Florida where we have hurricanes - is driving quite literally into a hurricane", she said.

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