Earthquakes as ash spews from Hawaiian volcano
EARTHQUAKES are damaging roads and buildings on Hawaii’s Big Island as ash emissions stream from Kilauea volcano.
The strongest shaking measured as a 4.4-magnitude earthquake. The floor of the summit crater has also dropped about 3ft, as the threat of a strong, explosive eruption at the top of the volcano loomed.
The ground was deflating as the crater’s lava levels fell, causing stress faults around the crater to move, resulting in the earthquakes. More were expected. Ash spewed from the summit at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, though emissions were not as strong as they were earlier in the week.
There were occasional bursts of ash coming from the crater causing it to fall on several communities, though there were only trace amounts, said the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Ash plumes on Tuesday had spouted as high as 12,000ft into the air, scientists said. These plumes are separate from the lava eruptions happening roughly 25 miles away from summit, where about 20 lava fissures have destroyed more than two dozen homes and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.
Dense, large rocks roughly 2ft in diameter were found in a car park a few hundred yards away from Kilauea’s summit crater, which reflect the “most energetic explosions yet observed and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity”, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a statement.
Scientists say earthquakes may shake loose rocks underground and open up new tunnels for lava to flow.
Cracks formed on a road near the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said the Hawaii Police Department. Much of the park remains closed.
“We’re all safe, and I wish they’d open the park back up, but they have to keep it safe for everybody,” said Ken Mcgilvray, an area resident. “We live on a volcano!”
Hawaii governor David Ige said the state is forming a joint task force that could handle mass evacuations of the Big Island’s Puna district if lava from Kilauea volcano covers major roads and isolates the area.
Hawaii Army National Guard Brigadier General Kenneth Hara, the task force commander, said he is anticipating potentially having to evacuate about 1,000 people, based on what he has been told by Hawaii County.
But he said some people may choose to stay behind because they are self-sufficient.
Lava spattering from fissures of the Kilauea volcano, near Pahoa.