Two weeks after Hawaii volcano eruption, residents say it's getting worse

Pauline Gross
May 18, 2018

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted on Thursday, sending ash 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) into the sky.

Hawaii County officials say the volcano's summit exploded at 4:17 a.m.

The noxious gas, normally emitted at unsafe levels only from the volcano's Halemaumau Crater, was seeping at a greater rate from the fissures in Leilani Estates, a residential area of about four square miles in the Big Island's Puna district.

The volcanic eruptions on Hawaii's Big Island have been escalating for about two weeks, severely damaging nearby residential neighborhoods.

The powerful explosions could hurl "ballistic blocks" the size of small cars across a distance of more than 1 kilometre and shoot pebble-sized projectiles and debris up to a dozen miles, the USGS has warned.

Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, confirmed the explosion on Thursday. Here's what it looks like on the ground. Authorities have confirmed the fissure is the 16th to open. He landed on the Big Island that evening.

Robyn Jumawan, who runs the nonprofit Pearlside Boxing and Fitness with her husband in West Oahu, lived on the west side of Big Island from 1994 to 2005, far from the active volcano.

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As the volcano continues to erupt, the lava lake at Kilauea's summit is draining below the water table, allowing groundwater to seep into the system. The cloud drifted generally northeast and traces of ash fell with rain in the Volcano Golf Course, Volcano Village, and other areas immediately around the Kilauea summit.

"With stratovolcanoes, when that lava reaches the surface, you get a very sudden expansion of that gas, and this generates a much more violent explosion", Malone said.

The resulting ash plume may affect the surrounding areas.

Twitter/United States Geological SurveyWebcam image from HVO Observation Tower of ash plume from this morning's explosive eruption at Kīlauea Volcano's summit, as captured by a webcam installed by the United States Geological Survey.

"We know what people are going through in Leilani Estates".

Two hundred miles separate Oahu from the Big Island, where lava flows and the threat of a massive volcanic explosion have drawn worldwide attention to rural subdivisions on the island's east side.

Staff from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park were evacuated and officials warned residents in the path of the ash plume to shelter in place. At the same time, tourism is the island's biggest industry and people's livelihoods are dependent on visitors coming, he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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