Volcano shooting rocks the size of microwave ovens
‘Ballistic blocks’ being shot from Hawaii volcano could mark onset of major eruptions.
HOnOlUlU: “Ballistic blocks” the size of microwave ovens shot from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano in what may be the start of explosive eruptions that could spew huge ash plumes and hurl smaller rocks for miles, the US Geological Survey said.
Such eruptions, last seen nearly a century ago, have been a looming threat since Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupted nearly two weeks ago.
Explosions in Kilauea’s crater sparked an aviation red alert due to risks the ash plume could blow into aircraft routes and damage jet engines.
More explosions are expected and may be more powerful, the USGS warned.
These steam-driven blasts could send a 20,000-foot (6,100m) ash plume out of the crater, hurling 10 to 12 tonne boulders up to half a mile (800m) and scatter pebble-sized rocks over 12 miles (19km), the USGS has said.
This type of eruption has the potential to carpet the Big Island in much thicker ash than current dustings and possibly spread the powder and volcanic smog across the Hawaiian islands and farther afield if it enters the stratosphere.
“This morning dense ballistic blocks up to 60cm across were found in the parking lot a few hundred metres from Halemaumau (Kilauea’s crater),” the USGS said in a statement.
“These reflect the most energetic explosions yet observed and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity.
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake at the volcano at 8.36am prompted authorities to issue an alert reassur- ing rattled Big Island residents that there was no risk of a tsunami from the volcanic activity.
Earthquakes were damaging roads and buildings on Hawaii’s Big Island as ash emissions streamed from Kilauea volcano.
The strongest shaking was recorded around 8.30am, measured as a 4.4-magnitude earthquake.
The floor of the summit crater has also dropped about 90cm, 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 decreased from Tuesday.
These plumes are separate from the lava eruptions happening roughly 40km away from summit, where about 20 lava fissures have destroyed more than two dozen homes and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.
Cracks formed on a highway 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. — AP/Reuters