Geologists: Explosive event possible at Hawaii volcano

The East Rift Zone from the ongoing Kilauea eruption, as seen from a helicopter this morning.

Puna Geothermal Venture could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will shut down Friday in anticipation of a possible explosive event at Kilauea volcano's summit crater. HVO's interpretation is that the explosion was triggered by a rockfall from the steep walls of Overlook crater.

Such blasts could grow more frequent if the receding magma in the summit chamber drops below groundwater levels, allowing steam to rush into the void and become trapped by more rock falls, causing explosive pressure buildups, scientists said.

There are now 15 of the vents spread through Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens.

Police say a Leilani Estates resident returned to his home Wednesday to retrieve personal belongings when he saw the man leaving his house.

The volcano erupted days ago and has continued to leak gas into the air, making "sulfuric acid in the downwind areas" likely, Elliot said. Officials are on site assessing the situation, they said, adding that hazardous fumes continue to be released. At least 36 structures - including at least 26 homes - have been destroyed. "But the difference with this is that's occurring in an area where people are living, and it's impacting their lives in a negative way so that's why it seems to be quite dramatic".

The potential for an explosive eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has increased due to declining lava lake levels at one of its craters, the US Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement.

Because of its distance from the summit of the volcano, Leilani Estates would experience a light dusting of ash, said Tina Neal, the scientist in charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. These blocks could weigh a few pounds to several tons, they said. The 500-foot fissure appeared in Leilani Estates.

The vents emerged on Tuesday near the spots where lava has been pouring into streets and backyards for the past week.

Police went door-to-door in Hawaii to roust residents near two new volcanic vents emitting risky gases in areas where lava has poured into streets and backyards for the past week.

Red lava has been pouring out of 14 fissures, and over 100 acres of land have been covered since the eruption of Kilauea began on Thursday. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have been particularly concerned about 60,000 gallons of flammable pentane that is stored at the PGV power plant, which has already shut down.

Acid rain can be harmful to forests because it dissolves nutrients as it seeps into the ground and also causes aluminum to be released into the soil, making it hard for trees to take in water. Ige activated the National Guard to help with evacuations and security.

After a spokesperson for the county of Hawaii's Mayor, last week, said the surrounding area is so toxic [because of sulfur dioxide gas] that even first responders are finding it hard to move without protective equipment. Whereas, the highway, which is the main connecting road in the area, has also been damaged seriously.

  • Jon Douglas