Federal Geologists: Hawaii Volcano Could Have Explosive Eruption

Geologists warn of volcanic eruption

In the Leilani Estates subdivision, police went door-to-door Tuesday to roust residents near two new volcanic vents emitting risky gases in areas where lava has poured into streets and backyards.

After the eruption, a mandatory evacuation was ordered and Northway said she had about two hours to gather things and leave her home.

Steam-driven explosions at volcanoes typically happen with very little warning and the first sign of a problem might be continuous ashy plumes.

As Hawaii's Kilauea volcano continues to erupt, officials warned on Wednesday that it could intensify, causing "ballistic projectiles" weighing as much as several tons to be thrown in all directions.

Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, but in late April and early May, the volcanic eruption took a risky new turn, and the fissures and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas prompted evacuations in the area.

Officials have warned of risky levels of sulfur dioxide gas.

Magma had steadily bubbled up for weeks inside the main crater at Kilauea's summit, and at the separate Pu'u 'O'o crater miles (kilometers) away on the volcano's eastern flank called the east rift zone.

Kilauea is one of the most active and well-monitored volcanoes in the world. At least 36 structures - including 26 residences - have been destroyed since then.

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After earthquakes and molten lava tore open the earth, residents of Hawaii's Big Island have new threats to worry about: hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain.

Talmadge Magno, the civil defense administrator for Hawaii County, said authorities also has asked a geothermic plant located half a mile from a Leilani Estates fissure to remove 12,000 gallons of a highly flammable chemical fuel from the area.

"The lava and the eruptions are sort of an obvious danger, and the gas is invisible and often times odorless", said Dr. Kayla Iacovino. The evacuees have been provided shelter at two community centers near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island.

On Friday, a magnitude 6.9 quake, the strongest in Hawaii since 1975, led to the closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and temporarily knocked out power, affecting about 14,000 customers, according to electric utility company Hawaii Electric Light Co.

"I'm in the safest part in the subdivision".

Wiggers said he wasn't leaving his home on the outskirts of the evacuation zone because he anxious that if he did, he wouldn't be able to get back in. "I walked out onto my deck and I heard this sound, it sounded like whoosh, whoosh", said Northway.

The new eruptions brought to 14 the number of vents that have opened since Kilauea started spraying fountains of lava as high as 90m into the air.

David Nail, who recently sold his business and moved to Lelani Estates from Orange County, California after his wife was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, said a six metre wall of lava blocked him from getting close enough to see if his house had been destroyed.

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