Volcano observatory warns of further 'explosive eruptions' in Hawaii

The Ecuadorian volcano Tungurahua spews lava and ash in Cahuaji about 80 miles south of Quito in February 2016. Authorities raised the alert level from yellow to orange after the volcano increased its activity and projected a column of ash 3 miles high

The Leilani Estates community remains in greatest danger, with 15 volcanic fissures so far having destroyed 36 structures, majority homes, and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.

Those 10-ton projectiles could fly a half-mile from the shield volcano if an explosion occurs, while clouds of ash could blanket areas up to 20 miles away.

Tina Neal, the scientist-in-charge of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, said geologists don't expect the summit eruption to be life-threatening so long as people stay out of the national park. As of this morning, the USGS says the lava lake level continues to drop and seismic activity is high.

Don Swanson, a geologist with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said the magma is likely to drop below the water table around the middle of the month.

The added threat could ground planes at one of the island's two major airports and pose other dangers.

Scientists can't be certain when the eruptions at Kilauea will stop.

"With that said, we are still in a period of significant potential aftershocks, so there is the possibility of certainly a large felt quake", Neal noted. From left to right on the horizon: Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent near the left edge of the image, the gas plume from Halemaʻumaʻu crater near the middle of the image (when clear enough), and Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea farther to the right.

Erupting volcanoes spew the hazardous sulfur dioxide gas. There are now 15 of the vents spread through the Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

Hawaii police said they arrested Alexandru Stingu-Dragomir, 29, on suspicion he burgled four houses in Leilani Estates after the mayor declared an emergency the area on last week. The Puna Geothermal Venture plant has about 50,000 gallons (189,270 liters) of pentane. It was removed early Thursday.


"We want to make sure that everybody is still working and people have jobs to go back to", Birch said.

As lava levels drain lower inside the crater, the danger of an eruption can actually increase, as when molten rock reaches ground level it can shoot ash kilometres away from the crater.

The problem lies at the summit of Kilauea, where a lava lake has been draining quickly at a rate of about 6.5 feet per hour, dropping 970 feet below the surface over the past week.

"This is a huge change".

The fear is that it will go below the underground water table - another 1,000 feet further down - and that would trigger a chain of events that could lead to a "very violent" steam explosion, Mandeville said. 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.

"We're learning about how the lava is impacting upon lifelines like water supply and electricity". And the dropped rocks hold that steam in until it blows.

"The recent scenarios have been developed using all the current techniques, data and knowledge of the field.to get the best idea of how a volcanic eruption in Auckland might impact on our society", Dr Lindsay says.

A similar 1924 explosion threw pulverized rock, ash and steam as high as 5.4 miles into the sky, (9 kilometers) for a couple of weeks.

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