Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be ready to blow, scientists say

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be ready to blow, scientists say

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be ready to blow, scientists say

With rain expected on the Big Island of Hawaii this week, residents are facing a new threat after the Kilauea volcanic eruption - acid rain. The eruption sent a massive spiral of ash wafting into the air and at one point, lava fountains were shooting 150 feet high.

Should steam-driven explosions begin, ash clouds will rise to greater elevations, meaning that minor ashfall could happen over much wider areas.

Kilauea, the U.S. state's most active volcano, erupted on Thursday, and lava flows from fissures on its eastern flank have destroyed at least 36 homes and other buildings and caused the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.

"If the lava column drops to the level of groundwater beneath Kilauea Caldera, influx of water into the conduit could cause steam-driven explosions", it said. The pool of magma drained back into an underground reservoir and pushed its way into deep channels carrying the molten rock farther downslope.

At least 15 volcanic fissures have opened up in and around the Leilani Estates, the newest crack opening this afternoon.

If lava drops beneath the groundwater stage, it may warmth up the water and create steam.

No deaths or major injuries have been reported since Kilauea, which has been in a state of almost constant eruption since 1983, began a series of major explosions on Thursday, spewing fountains of lava as high as 90 metres into the air and deadly volcanic gas up through cracks in the earth.

Scientists have no real prediction as to when or where the lava will flow - or when it will end.

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The volcano could then eject "ballistic rocks" of lava up to several feet in diameter, the USGS said. Ash is primarily a nuisance, and can irritate the eyes and breathing, reduce visibility and cause roadways to be slippery, and interfere with electrical lines.

Volcanic vents and lava flows have destroyed 36 structures since Kilauea erupted last Thursday and all 1700 residents of Leilani Estates residential area, of which Lanipuna Gardens is a part, have been told to get out of their homes in the semi-rural area.

After facing lava and toxic gas from the Kilauea volcano eruption on Tuesday, Hawaii residents are being warned the worst is yet to come.

On Monday a different type of explosion occurred at the summit at 8.27am local time.

But experts say the behaviour exhibited by Kilauea differs from one eruptive episode to the next, and they hope the latest sequence of events will help them better understand why. There was no indication when the lava might stop or how far it might spread.

But the eruptions could resume. "Why it would push magma 10 miles (16 km) down from where it was erupting is a mystery", he said.

While hot lava, falling rocks, and dirty ash are bad enough, toxic gas from Kilauea is another health hazard residents need to be cautious of.

In the announcement of the supplemental proclamation today, the administration said Ige instructed the administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, and Hawaii Civil Defense Agency Administrator Talmadge Magno to "lead a team to develop and implement mitigation steps as necessary to protect public health and safety". Almost 300 people are staying in shelters.

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