"Explosive" Eruptions Now Possible at Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano

"Explosive" Eruptions Now Possible at Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirmed Wednesday that a new fissure appeared in Lanipuna Gardens, which is adjacent to Leilani Estates.

Barbara Lozano, who lives inside a mile of the plant, mentioned she would have thought twice about shopping for her property if she had recognized the dangers. "That's why the Kilauea Park is to be closed on Friday until further notice".

Although the explosion was short-lived, geologists believe that the lava lake is still above the underground water table. And for volcanologists, the eruption is an opportunity to share with the public what we know about how these massive, intricate systems work.

There are fears that things could get worse, with the volcano hurling ash and boulders the size of refrigerators miles into the air. Most of the remainder of the Big Island is unaffected for now, as are the other Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory website has a wonderful summary of the 1924 explosions, including magnificent historic photos.

Officials stress residents of the Kilauea summit area should learn about the hazards of ashfall, stay informed about the status of the volcano and area closures, and review family and business emergency plans. And as soon as the lava drops beneath the water desk, water hits rocks which can be as scorching as almost 2,200 levels (1,200 Celsius) and flashes into steam. In the meantime, she said, FEMA teams on the Big Island and Oahu are working closely with state and county officials to assess the situation.

Geologists describe the activity since 1790 at the Halema'uma'u Crater inside the Kilauea Volcano as "dominantly infusive", which means that its regular eruptions feature a steadily flow of lava onto the ground.

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About 2,000 people have been evacuated from the neighborhoods, where scorching lava has oozed from the ground. Scientists don't know how long after that an explosion could occur. Shield volcanoes rarely build up enough pressure to have catastrophic explosions though sometimes steam explosions like the ones predicted are possible.

"Because of the unexpected darkness during daylight hours ... and the sometimes strong smell of sulfur during an ashfall, many people describe the experience as eerie and frightening, disorienting and confusing, or awful", the USGS says.

Mario Tama/Getty ImagesThe Fire InsideThe problem is that if too much lava escapes, it could lead to a lowering of the "lava lake" inside the volcano. "That is three soccer fields happening", Mandeville mentioned.

The violent eruption would cause a continuous process of rock from the volcano's inside walls to be shaken loose, fall into the lava, and then explode. And once the lava drops below the water table, water hits rocks that are as hot as nearly 2,200 degrees and flashes into steam. When the water hits the lava, it additionally steams. And the dropped rocks hold that steam in until it blows.

The small, aptly named town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about 3 miles (4.83 kilometers) from the summit. Janet Coney is workplace supervisor of the Kilauea Lodge, an inn and restaurant.

"We're hoping that the park where we do most of the field work will still be accessible for our work, although we're not really working in areas that are unsafe".

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