Published: Mon, May 07, 2018
Research | By Wilma Wheeler

Earthquakes, lava fissures could last for months on Hawaii: USGS

Earthquakes, lava fissures could last for months on Hawaii: USGS

Lava flows from the erupting Kilauea volcano reached the houses on the largest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Almost 2,000 people on Hawaii's Big Island have been evacuated from homes after lava eruptions destroyed five houses and sulfur dioxide gas threatened to harm anyone who stayed in the residential area, officials said. "As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue", U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.

Authorities said more lava fissures opened overnight in the Leilani Estates area, where lava leapt up to 230 feet (70 metres) into the air.

Civil defense officials warned residents near Kilauea that "extremely high levels of risky sulfur dioxide gas", which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, had been detected in the air.

Earlier in the day, officials had said the lava destroyed nine homes.

Scientists and volcanologists are now trying to determine the movement of the magma under the volcano. Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano has destroyed homes and forced the evacuations of more than a thousand people.

"Those remaining in Leilani and Lanipuna Gardens and along Pohoiki Road need to prepare to leave because if the winds change, you could be gassed", warned Hawaii County Council member Eileen O'Hara in a Facebook post.

Exposure to high levels can be life-threatening, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. He has remote cameras set up in his home and says that as of now his home is still intact.

And evacuated residents have been told they won't be going home for some time.

"I was a critical care nurse for 37 years, so I understand the health implications and the dangers involved", he said.

A 6.9-magnitude natural disaster, which is the strongest one to have hit the state of Hawaii in over 43 years, has forced authorities to call a mandatory evacuation.

About 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light lost power immediately after the natural disaster.

When the larger quake followed, he said he felt strong shaking in Hilo, the island's largest city that is roughly 45 minutes from the rural Puna area.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park evacuated all visitors and non-emergency staff.

Neil Valentine and his family also left their home Thursday night in Leilani Estates.

One of the world's most active volcanoes, it has been erupting since 1983.

There have been more than 1,000 earthquakes over the last week in the area of Kilauea, produced by the volcano making room for new flows of magma occurring inside of it. In 2014, lava burned a house and smothered a cemetery as it approached Pahoa, the town closest to Leilani Estates.

Kilauea - which according to Hawaiian folklore is home to Pele, the volcano goddess - saw almost continuous activity during the 19th century. As molten rock moved underground from the collapsed lava-filled crater in the East Rift Zone to a lower elevation, the moving magma increased pressure in the entire area, Stovall said.

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