Evacuations ordered as Hawaiian volcano spews lava

Ten thousand ordered to evacuate as Hawaiian volcano spews lava into residential area after days of earthquakes

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Ten thousand Hawaii residents have been ordered to evacuate their homes after the island’s Kilauea volcano began spewing lava.  

Warning sirens sounded across the Big Island on Thursday as Hawaii County Civil Defense urged residents of Leilani Estates, in Puna, to flee the approaching lava streams.  

The American Red Cross of Hawaii has opened an emergency shelter at Pahoa Community Center for evacuating residents.

The eruption comes after multiple earthquakes rocked the Puna district in recent days. The crater floor of the Puu Oo vent collapsed during the tremors, earlier this week, which sent lava flowing ten miles down the mountain towards the community on the southeast coastline.


Ten thousand Hawaii residents have been ordered to evacuate their homes after the island’s Kilauea volcano began spewing lava

Lower Puna resident Ikaika Marzo told the Honolulu Star Advertiser that he saw lava  fountains shooting 150 feet in the air and molten lava spreading down Mohala Street in Leilani Estates.

‘It sounds like a jet engine. It’s going hard,’ he said. 

‘There are a lot of elderly people who need help to get their stuff out,’ Marzo said.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said a mandatory evacuation is in effect for residents in Leilani Estates, from Luana Street to Mohala Street, stretching to the end of Leilani Avenue and Pohoiki Road.


Warning sirens sounded across the Big Island on Thursday as Hawaii County Civil Defense urged residents of Leilani Estates, in Puna, to flee the approaching lava streams (pictured, cars flee as lava erupts in the background)


Residents say they saw lava fountains shooting 150 feet in the air and molten lava spreading down Mohala Street in Leilani Estate


Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts, releasing red lava into a residential neighborhood and prompts mandatory evacuation orders for nearby homes

Officials said that people coming to the emergency shelters should bring their ’emergency evacuation supply kit including necessary medicine, food, and necessary items.’ 

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials say they are ‘high alert on a 24-hour basis for the possibility of a volcanic eruption in the lower Puna area.’ 

‘All areas bordering the east rift zone are at high risk for eruption activities,’ they said. 

‘Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has identified magma movement in the lower east rift zone. We urge all residents to keep themselves informed and on the alert.’


Smoke could also be seen rising from the Puu Oo vent on Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano

The eruption follows a 6.9 magnitude on Thursday morning, centered about 18 miles south-southwest of Hawaiian Paradise Park and around four miles deep.

It was initially reported as a 4.6-magnitude tremor, but later upgraded. 

It has been the most powerful quake so far after days of earthquakes rumbled through the island, as experts fear it may indicate a bigger eruption is on its way.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are monitoring the situation carefully and reporting on changes as they happen.

Most of Kilauea’s activity has been nonexplosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and 10 ton rocks into the sky, leaving one man dead.


The crater collapsed on Sunday, and since then the island has been rocked by hundreds of earthquakes. Above, the crater on Wednesday


This April 23, 2018 photo shows the extent of the large overflow of a lava lake in the Kilauea Volcano


Active lava flow is glimpsed beneath the surface in this April 30 photo from Kilauea 


All public access from the island’s Puna District, has been shut down and visitors have been warned to stay away in case of an eruption

The Mauna Ulu eruption was a five-year-long event at the volcano that lasted from May 24, 1969 until July 22, 1974.

Puu Oo’s 1983 eruption resulted in lava fountains soaring over 1,500 feet high. In the decades since, the lava flow has buried dozens of square miles of land and destroyed many homes.

In 2008, after a series of small earthquakes rattled the island, Kilauea’s summit crater opened and gushed lava and rock over 75 acres of the mountain, damaging a nearby visitor overlook.

HOW CAN RESEARCHERS PREDICT VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS?

According to Eric Dunham, an associate professor of Stanford University’s School of Earth, energy and Environmental Sciences, ‘Volcanoes are complicated and there is currently no universally applicable means of predicting eruption. In all likelihood, there never will be.’

However, there are indicators of increased volcanic activity, which researchers can use to help predict volcanic eruptions. 

Researchers can track indicators such as: 

  • Volcanic infrasound: When the lava lake rises up in the crater of an open vent volcano, a sign of a potential eruption, the pitch or frequency of the sounds generated by the magma tends to increase.
  • Seismic activity: Ahead of an eruption, seismic activity in the form of small earthquakes and tremors almost always increases as magma moves through the volcano’s ‘plumbing system’.
  • Gas emissions: As magma nears the surface and pressure decreases, gases escape. Sulfur dioxide is one of the main components of volcanic gases, and increasing amounts of it are a sign of increasing amounts of magma near the surface of a volcano. 
  • Ground deformation: Changes to a volcano’s ground surface (volcano deformation) appear as swelling, sinking, or cracking, which can be caused by magma, gas, or other fluids (usually water) moving underground or by movements in the Earth’s crust due to motion along fault lines. Swelling of a volcano cans signal that magma has accumulated near the surface.  

Source: United States Geological Survey

 

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