The Blue and Gold

Hawaii Volcanoes

Ryan Arar, Author

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Hawaii has been a major topic in the news lately, as citizens of the Big Island are facing volcanic eruptions and unstoppable lava flows. These fissures, volcanic vents in the Earth, are oozing lava from the ground and creating a massive flow. The Kilauea volcano spewed lava and rocks at over 80 buildings in the Leilani Estates and the Lanipuna Gardens area. How exactly did the destruction begin? On May 3, there were a series of large earthquakes, with the epicenter being directly on the Kilauea volcano. As a result, the fissures and volcanoes became activated destroying buildings, cars, and huge swaths of land. As of May 28, there are 23 fissures on the Big Island, with 19 still active. There has been one injury where a “lava splatter” shattered a man’s leg while on a third story building balcony.                                     

 

A geothermal plant near the Kilauea volcano is facing a major threat as the lava is slowly creeping towards the plant. As of May 30, the lava has stalled, sparing the plant and other communities. However, more than 2,000 people have been ordered out of their homes for more than just the lava flows. Toxic sulfur dioxide gases released from the fissures and eruptions have threatened many more communities.

 

Hawaiian residents fleeing the area are facing another major problem as the fast-moving lava blocks one major evacuation route and is blocking a crossroad of another, causing even more evacuation orders for more communities.

Hawaiian officials say about a dozen people are living “off the grid” with no water or electricity. In Kapoho, people are stranded in an area completely cut off by the lava. The lava from the Kilauea eruption about 4 weeks ago has covered an area of 5.5 square miles. Nearly four times the size of New York City’s Central Park.

 

Officials have also been tightening evacuation rules, with the only options being to evacuate or to get arrested. Emergency responders will not rescue anyone past the given deadline. County spokesman Janet Snyder told reporters, “They are being asked to leave. Period.” On Saturday, 7 people were already cited for “loitering in a disaster zone” and will have to appear in court.

In the past 30 days, a reported 12,000 earthquakes occurred on the Big Island. According to Brian Shiro, a supervisory geophysicist at the USCG Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the largest earthquake measured at a 3.5 magnitude. The continuing earthquakes are a motivator for the open fissures that continue to spew out lava. Scientists do not know when the destruction will end but are continuing to prepare for the worst.  

Latest News on Hawaii Volcano: What used to be a popular vacation spot for snorkeling and surfing is now completely filled with lava. Kapoho Bay has been affected greatly by the lava, as it is believed over 300 homes have been destroyed. Hawaii Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno says, “It’s a slow-moving flood. Nothing stops it and the direction it goes, it continues its march to the ocean.” Over 80% of the homes are vacation homes Magno says. The lava extended 0.8 miles off of shore, sending billowing clouds of steam rising from the lava.

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