CM – EXPLANATION: The Hawaiian lava creates a lake of molten rock

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September 30, 2021

by Caleb Jones

Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on earth, began to erupt on Hawaii’s Big Island on Wednesday. The eruption is not in an area of ​​houses and is entirely contained within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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Officials said the increased earthquake activity and the swelling of the ground prior to the eruption put them on high alert. Then cracks opened in the summit area and let lava fountains shoot into the sky. Now the area has filled with molten rock, creating a lava lake in the volcano’s crater.

The new lava is an expected evolution of a volcano that recharges itself after a huge eruption in 2018 that took much of its own Magmas drained.

The 2018 eruption destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of residents. However, experts say this latest eruption will not flow into residential areas.

Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory detected an earthquake wave about 5 miles east of the summit’s caldera early Wednesday. In the afternoon, another series of earthquakes accompanied by swelling caused the alert to be raised.

“We recorded a series of earthquakes in the eastern rift zone, about 5 miles from the summit. And these came in what we would call a little crush. One at a time, ”said Ken Hon. The USGS scientist in charge of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. « They were alarming enough that we suspected that pressure was building within the system. »

The agency had raised its alert level « to Orange or Watch » in anticipation of an eruption, said Hon. « And 20 minutes later there was actually an eruption. »

It’s not uncommon for Kilauea to have earthquakes, which often indicate magma is moving underground or parts of the volcanoes are shifting. Earthquakes and simultaneous swelling of the ground can be harbingers of an eruption.

Eruptions on Kilauea are not uncommon. In fact, the volcano erupted almost continuously for decades, but mostly not in densely populated residential areas before the eruption in 2018. More than 700 homes were destroyed and thousands of residents were displaced in the event.

Kilauea has been active since 1983 and lava flows occasionally covered rural farms and homes. During this time, the lava sometimes reached the ocean, causing dramatic interactions with the water.

The same area of ​​the volcano that began to erupt on Wednesday also erupted in December and lasted through May.

Hawaiian chants and stories tell the stories of countless eruptions. In Hawaiian tradition, Kilauea is the home of the volcano goddess Pele. Kilauea has erupted 34 times since 1952.

Hon said that within hours of the eruption on Wednesday, the crater floor of the volcano’s summit was covered with more than 2 meters of lava.

In 2018, Kilauea spat on Enough lava for four months to fill 320,000 Olympic-size pools and buried an area more than half the size of Manhattan in up to 24 meters of now-hardened lava. The molten rock reduced sights, streets and neighborhoods to a huge field of blackened boulders and volcanic shards.

The December eruption created a lava lake with enough molten rock to fill 10 Hoover dams.

After the In the 2018 eruption, a lava lake on the summit in the same area stopped erupting and began to fill with water for the first time in recorded history, creating a freshwater lake of volcanic material.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remained open to the public accessible and officials expected tens of thousands of visitors to see the new eruption.

National park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said that while the lava itself is far from where people can hike or drive, there are others too Dangers exist.

Gases emanating from the volcano can be dangerous if inhaled.

She also noted that the Bode n has huge cracks that people can fall into and that visitors should avoid getting near the edge of the caldera. There is a drop of nearly 500 feet from the crater rim to the bottom.

« This eruption is going to pull a lot of people into the park, we are already seeing people coming into the park and tonight after the break-in drive in the dark, « said Ferracane. « People really need to remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic and they need to stay safe and protect us too. »

It happened at the top of Kilauea Volcano, an uninhabited area in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island. This is about 200 miles (322 kilometers) southeast of Honolulu, which is on another island called Oahu.

« All indications are that it will stay in the crater, » said Hon, the USGS scientist. « We see no evidence of lava moving into the lower part of the eastern rift zone where people live. Currently, all activity is inside the park. »

The site is miles from the nearest town. The park has closed this part of the summit to the public since 2008.

The 2018 eruption occurred in the lower eastern rift zone. Cracks opened in the Leilani Estates and other populated areas of the island’s Puna district. Lava from this eruption meandered to the Pacific Ocean, destroying homes and farms along the way. Lava has evaporated a freshwater lake and created a new black sand beach.

Since much of the magma that fueled Kilauea for years erupted in 2018, the volcano is now recharging and will erupt again in the future.

Hon said these kind of small eruptions could go on for years as the volcano fills up.

« The magma is entering Kilauea at a fairly constant rate and either filling the interior of the volcano … or it comes to the Surface, « he said.

© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in any way without permission.

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