Hawaii braces for worse lava flows from erupt­ing vol­cano

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

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 evac­u­ate, sci­en­tists said on Fri­day.

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 lev­els of toxic gases, Hawai­ian Vol­cano Ob­ser­va­tory sci­en­tist-in-charge 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,” Neal told a con­fer­ence call. “Once a new batch of hot­ter, gassier magma makes it to the sur­face we might see larger, higher erup­tion rates.”

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. In ad­di­tion, Ki­lauea, one of the world’s most ac­tive vol­ca­noes, 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. Ge­ol­o­gists ex­pect new lava out­breaks in or around the hard-hit Leilani Es­tates area in the south­east- ern Puna dis­trict, about 20 miles (32 km) south of Hilo, where 27 homes have been de­stroyed and all 1,900 res­i­dents have been evac­u­ated.

Lo­cal res­i­dents got a text mes­sage alert at 11 a.m. warn­ing them they could have lit­tle or no time to evac­u­ate in the event of fu­ture erup­tions. “We are telling peo­ple to plan for the worst. They should have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C,” said Roann Oko­mura, a county of­fi­cial who is help­ing run one of the shel­ters set up for evac­uees. Europe’s largest economies lob­bied to pro­tect their com­pa­nies’ in­vest­ments in Iran on Fri­day, seek­ing to keep the nu­clear deal with Tehran alive af­ter Wash­ing­ton pulled out and threat­ened to im­pose sanc­tions on Euro­pean com­pa­nies.

Ger­many and France have sig­nif­i­cant trade links with Iran and re­main com­mit­ted to the nu­clear agree­ment, as does Bri­tain, and the three coun­tries’ for­eign min­is­ters

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