Lava and ex­plo­sion fears es­ca­late

Sunday Herald Sun - - News -

MORE de­struc­tive lava flows could soon hit Hawaii’s Big Is­land as the Ki­lauea vol­cano erupts, pos­ing a greater threat than ooz­ing magma that has so far de­stroyed dozens of homes and forced thou­sands to flee.

As a lava lake at Ki­lauea’s sum­mit drains in­side the vol­cano, magma is run­ning un­der­ground. It could burst to the sur­face as large, fast-mov­ing and in­tensely hot lava flows, and pro­duce higher lev- els of toxic gases, Hawai­ian Vol­cano Ob­ser­va­tory sci­en­tist Tina Neal said.

“What will take a turn for the worse in terms of haz­ard is if hot­ter, fresher magma makes it to the sur­face, and that could be what is com­ing,” she said.

Fif­teen large cracks or fis­sures have opened on the east­ern flank of Ki­lauea since the vol­cano erupted eight days ago. The vol­canic vents have oozed rel­a­tively cool, slug­gish magma left over from a sim­i­lar event in 1955. Fresher magma could now emerge be­hind it.

Also, Ki­lauea threat­ens to be­gin a se­ries of ex­plo­sive erup­tions within days or weeks that could form huge clouds of vol­canic smog, or vog, and hurl boul­ders as big as small cars.

The na­tional park around Ki­lauea was off lim­its to vis­i­tors yes­ter­day for fear the vol­cano would blow its top in the com­ing days.

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