Hawaii Eruption 'Could Last Days, Weeks, Years'

Another home destroyed Tuesday in Lanipuna Gardens area
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2018 4:04 PM CDT
A thermal map shows new fissures, with yellow streaks indicating plumes of sulphur dioxide gas, during eruptions of the Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii.   (NASA via AP)
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(Newser) – Authorities have warned of no end in sight to volcanic activity responsible for hundreds of earthquakes and the destruction of dozens of homes on Hawaii's Big Island. Case in point: After a 24-hour lull, two new volcano fissures opened up in the Lanipuna Gardens area Tuesday afternoon—at least one home was destroyed—prompting a warning for the area's 250 residents to "evacuate now," report Hawaii News Now and Reuters. The fissures join 12 other vents, covering 2.5 miles, in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, where 1,700 were evacuated. Though activity has calmed there, Kilauea's ongoing eruption "could last days, weeks, years," a volcanologist tells NPR. "As long as there's magma supplying the system we're expecting more of the same," adds USGS volcanologist Wendy Stovall.

At CNN, geologist Einat Lev explains that Kilauea's "effusive fissure eruption" is resulting in lava flows that are slow-moving but threatening nonetheless. "While we cannot tell how long this eruption will last, we can do our best to predict where the lava will go," Lev says. Using constantly updated maps and heat cameras, experts are tracking magma as it flows beneath communities, trying to determine where pressure will force a new fissure to open and how much lava and ash might escape. Other concerns include sulfur dioxide gas, which could turn to acid rain with precipitation expected Thursday or Friday, reports KTLA, and the possibility of explosive eruptions that send boulders flying through the air, which geologists warned about Wednesday, per the AP. Scientists are trying to look on the bright side, though. "The things that we will learn in the wake of this eruption will change the way we see volcanoes for the future," Stovall says. (Read more Hawaii stories.)

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