Lava From Hawaiian Volcano Starts To Flow Again

May 4, 2018

A day after Hawaii’s most active volcano briefly erupted, triggering evacuation orders for some 1,700 people, lava has again started to flow.

The U.S. Geological Survey said early Friday that lava was spewing into a residential neighborhood near the Kilauea volcano, forcing any residents who ignored the order and remained in the area to flee.

“Eruptive activity resumes from a new vent in Leilani subdivision on the Island of Hawaii,” USGS tweeted at about 5:15 a.m. local time.

An alert issued in a statement from the Hawaii County Civil Defense about an hour earlier warned residents to get out immediately.

“Volcanic vents are erupting on Makamae and Mohala Streets, all Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivision residents are ordered to evacuate immediately,” Civil Defense officials tweeted. The agency also warned of “active volcanic fountaining.”

USGS video showed lava pouring out of the vents and flowing through swaths of dense trees, across roads and near homes. The vents were created by hundreds of small earthquakes that have jolted the region since Monday.

Leilani Estates is about 25 miles from Kilauea and close to 30 miles south of Hilo, a popular vacation destination. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said residents in the area “are being sheltered at Pāhoa Community Center & Kea’au Community Center.”

The initial eruption Thursday afternoon local time, which was captured on video here, was short-lived and remained relatively contained. The Hawaii Observatory Status Report said “lava spatter and gas bursts” only lasted for about two hours and spread some 33 feet from ruptures in the earth.

Geologists had predicted that the swarm of temblors — more than 600 in the past four days — meant that lava could break through the surface at any time.

As NPR previously reported:

“The rumbling in the region goes back to mid-March when the cone of the Pu’u O’o crater on Kilauea began to swell and the pressure trapped inside caused the crater floor to collapse on April 30. That forced an intrusion of the magma, which means that rather than gushing upward through the crater of the volcano, it starting seeping underground.

“As it moves beneath the surface, the molten lava is breaking up rock and causing the ground to shift. That process results in earthquakes. And the fear is that lava will spew out of cracks created by those earthquakes and destroy nearby homes.”

Hours before Thursday’s eruption, a 5.0-magnitude temblor shook the area.

The governor activated the Hawaii National Guard to assist emergency responders with evacuations and security.

Ige tweeted Thursday night: “I am in contact with @MayorHarryKim and Hawai’i County, and the state is actively supporting the county’s emergency response efforts. I have also activated the Hawai’i National Guard to support county emergency response teams with evacuations and security.”

Civil Defense officials warned residents near Kilauea that “extremely high levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide gas,” which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, had been detected in the air.

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