Hawaii asks Trump to declare state of disaster for volcano eruption

Molala Street in Leilani Estates after lava flowed over the road

A new fissure spraying lava fountains as high as about 230 feet, according to the US Geological Survey, is shown from Luana Street in Leilani Estates subdivision on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone in Hawaii, US on May 5, 2018.

"We know the volcano is capable of doing this", Mandeville said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1925, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years.

The plant sits at the edge of the Leilani Estates residential area on Hawaii's Big Island where lava from 15 volcanic fissures has so far destroyed 36 structures, majority homes, and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents. Instead of trying to come up with ways to stop the unstoppable, authorities suggest it's better to use their resources to educate residents on evacuation preparedness and public awareness of the dangers. In addition, there's the potential for steam and hazardous sulfur dioxide emissions.

To make a rough situation worse, the eruptions could also leave serious ash deposits up to 20 miles away from the volcano itself. Scientists do not know how long it would be after that for an explosion to take place.

How could the volcanic eruption turn explosive?

"Due to the possibility of a steam-induced explosion at the summit of Kilauea due to the receding lava lake, an ensuing ash fall event, plus southerly wind patterns forecasted for Friday, the majority of the park will be closed Friday until further notice".

"Past explosive eruptions at Kilauea have been comparatively small on a worldwide scale", Swanson said.

An influx of water inside could cause steam-driven explosions.

Similarities between then and now have scientists concerned, but it's tricky to predict when and with how much force Kilauea might explode in this fashion.

How would this compare to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens?


The volcano has been erupting on the Big Island, sending lava flows into inhabited areas and interrupting service at the national park.

The lava flow in these neighborhoods has apparently slowed, but noxious sulfur dioxide gas is still issuing from the ground. "The result is that gas can more easily escape, so their eruptions tend to be less dramatic".

It's not clear how long the active lava flow in Leilani Estates will continue.

In recent years the volcano has mostly released lava in hard-to-reach areas inside a national park or along the coastline.

In the weeks ahead, the volcano could eject blocks up to two yards (meters) in diameter a little less than a mile (a kilometer) away, the USGS said.

Based on this information, it's unlikely Hawaii's Kilauea explosion would compare to Mount St. Helens' tragic explosion, which left 57 people dead.

"Babb explained that the rumbling in the region goes back to mid-March when the cone of the Pu'u O'o crater began to swell and the pressure trapped inside caused the crater floor to collapse on April 30".

"The cryptodome was a very hot and highly pressurized body of magma".

She adds: "So far, more than 200 residents and their pets have sought refuge in two Red Cross shelters, while hundreds more are staying with family and friends". "It was when geologists after the eruption worldwide started recognizing these giant debris avalanches, these giant landslides that are now recognized as a major hazard at volcanoes all around the world".

"GPS evidence from stations in the area give us pretty good confidence that magma has in fact moved downrift from where it was pooled under Leilani Estates", he said during a media conference call.

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