The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerat­ors

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PAHOA, Hawaii — If Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano blows its top in the coming days or weeks, as experts fear, it could hurl ash and boulders the size of refrigerat­ors miles into the air, shutting down airline traffic and endangerin­g lives in all directions, scientists said Thursday.

“If it goes up, it will come down,” said Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinato­r for the U.S. Geological Survey. “You don’t want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it’s coming out at 120 mph.”

The volcano, which has been spitting and sputtering lava for a week, has destroyed more than two dozen homes and threatened a geothermal plant. The added threat of an explosive eruption could ground planes at one of the Big Island’s two major airports and pose other dangers. The national park around the volcano announced that it would close because of the risks.

“We know the volcano is capable of doing this,” Mandeville said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1925, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years. “We know it is a distinct possibilit­y.”

He would not estimate the likelihood of such an explosion, but said the internal volcanic conditions are changing in a way that could lead to a blast in about a week. The volcano’s internal plumbing could still prevent an explosion.

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