Toxic gas alert for Hawaii volcano eruption; new areas at risk

Saul Bowman
May 13, 2018

The Kilauea volcano began erupting last week, so far destroying about 36 structures and covering more than a hundred acres of land in lava. The agency released numerous images on Monday that showed the movement of the lava as it seeps into new areas.

Scientists said the lava flow forming in the crack has been minor, but that could always change. Red regions represent vegetation, and gray and black zones mark older lava flows.

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, said Hawaiian Volcano Observatory lead scientist Tina Neal.

"Earthquake activity in the summit remains elevated with several felt events at Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) today". As a result, lava levels inside the volcano's main crater have been decreasing. If it falls below the water table, water will pour onto the lava, generating steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower or rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases.

Kilauea began erupting over a week ago.

The USGS spokesman said: "These ash clouds have been relatively low concentration and have risen only a few thousand feet above the ground, a few generating very localized ashfall downwind". 1,700 people have been evacuated.


As a precaution, plant workers this week removed 50,000 gallons of pentane stored at the site.

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Hawaii following a request by the state's governor due to the volcanic activity continuing to wreak havoc on the island.

The Hawaii National Guard is prepared, with only 90-minutes notice, to rescue some 2,000 people by ground convoy in troop-carrying vehicles and, if necessary, in Blackhawk or Chinook helicopters.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded more than two dozen earthquakes in the area near the east coast of the Big Island on Saturday alone.

The declaration means that federal funds will be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to assist with emergency work and repairs.

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