Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Hawaii volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators

The Ecuadorian volcano Tungurahua spews lava and ash in Cahuaji about 80 miles south of Quito in February 2016. Authorities raised the alert level from yellow to orange after the volcano increased its activity and projected a column of ash 3 miles high Hawaii volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators
Gerardo Duncan | 12 May, 2018, 21:27

Geologists said Kilauea may be entering a new phase of explosive eruptions not seen in almost a century that could hurl "ballistic blocks" weighing up to 12 tons for half a mile (800 meters), and rain pebble-sized fragments for another mile or two (1.8 to 3.2 km).

Hawaii officials have had a busy month pleading with travelers to keep their plans even as dramatic images of natural disasters afflicting the islands have bombarded televisions and social media feeds.

Diagram explains explosive eruptions of volcanoes. The Puna Geothermal Venture plant had about 50,000 gallons (189,270 liters) of pentane.

Due to the anticipated steam-induced explosion at the summit of Kīlauea caused by the receding lava lake, and the possibility of a rock and ash fall event, the majority of the park is closed until further notice. Volcano and other nearby communities may be showered by pea-sized fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash but they aren't expected to get hit by large boulders, she said.

"We know what people are going through in Leilani Estates".

George Szigeti, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority says Kilauea is being monitored constantly and says the Big Island is "immense" and there are large parts that are unaffected by the volcano.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which includes the crater and surrounding region, announced Wednesday that it will close Friday in anticipation of the possible explosive event. "If you're near the crater, within half a mile, you could be subject to ballistic blocks weighing as much as 10 or 12 tons", Donald Swanson of the Obervatory tells The Washington Post. 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 said Thursday.

Since the eruption started more than a week ago, 36 structures, including 27 homes, have been destroyed. There are now 15 of the vents spread through the Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

Gov. David Ige said crews at a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak accelerated the removal of stored flammable fuel as a precaution. It was removed early Thursday.

As long as people stay away, they will be safe, Johnson said, noting that residents are likely well aware of the potential dangers while tourists may be less so.

Stars shine above as a plume rises from the Halemaumau crater, illuminated by glow from the crater's lava lake, within the Kilauea volcano summit at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on May 9, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.

Two subdivisions were evacuated last week after lava oozed out of the fissures.

The small town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the summit.

People should also be cautious around the water: once lava interacts with saltwater, it produces hydrochloric acid, which is toxic.

"We want to make sure that everybody is still working and people have jobs to go back to", Birch said.

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