eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert

  • Written by Rebecca Carey, Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences, University of Tasmania

A code red alert level for aviation has been issued this week on Hawai'i’s big island, as Kīlauea volcano continues its explosive activity at the summit.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s warning for Kīlauea said:

At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent.

But Kīlauea has erupted before, and just as today its violent activity attracted the crowds. The challenge for authorities is to balance that curiosity with the safety of people on the island.

The observatory warning said there were reports of an ash cloud reaching heights of up to 3.5km above sea level. Ashfall and vog (volcanic air pollution) have been reported almost 29km downwind of the summit.

Read more: Curious Kids: why doesn't lava melt the side of the volcano?

There were also reports of new fissures erupting lava into new areas furthering the extent of the damage.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert A lava flow from one of the fissures moves on Makamae Street in Leilani Estates on May 6. USGS

Respect for Kīlauea

Kīlauea is a majestic and beautiful volcano. Native Hawaiians and Hawai'i residents who live on her flanks speak of her beauty with a healthy dose of respect and awareness of the constant threat of eruptive activity and destruction.

Kīlauea’s eruptive activity this year began in early May in residential areas on its east flank, about 35km from the summit.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert A new fissure erupting from Luana Street, Leilani Estates subdivision on Kilauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone near Pahoa, Hawai'i, May 5, 2018. USGS

The eruptive activity has captivated us for days. Spectacular fountains and rivers of lava have been emanating from volcanic vents, together with the tragic destruction of property and livelihoods.

This devastation led to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a “major disaster” on the island.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert Activity continues on Kilauea’s east rift zone, as a fissure eruption fountains more than 60 metres into the air, consuming all in its path., near Pahoa, Hawaii, US, May 6, 2018. EPA/Bruce Omori/Paradise Helicopters

Crucially, residents are safe, but those who have visited Hawai’i or with similar experiences of destructive natural hazard events will be sad to see pictures of this devastation.

At the same time, and away from the current eruption on the flank of Kīlauea, another crisis is unfolding at the volcano’s summit. Kīlauea Volcano hosts the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at its summit, which is now closed to all visitors because of the hazard.

It may seem odd that at a distance of more than 35km from the active spattering and lava effusion on the eastern flank of the volcano, volcanic hazards pose such a significant risk to warrant the closure.

But Kīlauea is up to its old tricks again, possibly replicating activity seen last in 1924 which led to a variety of violent and sporadic explosions, dispersing volcanic ejecta around the summit and killing one visitor.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert A crowd of visitors view the eruption plume from the front of the Volcano House hotel. They were subsequently warned by Ruy H Finch, acting director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, that it was unwise to remain there. USGS

The decision to close access to the summit is driven by current monitoring data, and crucial past experience and knowledge of Kīlauea’s violent behaviour.

Over the past week the mesmerising convecting lava lake that has resided at the summit for a decade is no longer. Magma has evacuated to depths greater than 285m into the deeper magma plumbing system.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert The summit lava lake has dropped significantly over the past few days, and on May 6 was roughly 220m below the crater rim. USGS

The last time that happened – in 1924 – it explosively interacted with groundwater at depth, producing violent, sporadic eruptions and a visitor fatality.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert This block was thrown out during an explosion at Halema‘uma‘u crater on Kīlauea on May 18, 1924, and landed about 600 meters from today’s rim. USGS/HVO photo courtesy of Bishop Museum

Volcanic hazards at Kīlauea and the ‘ash problem’

Hazards from violent explosive activity at Kīlauea’s summit are substantial. Magma and water interactions are highly intense and violent – think hot oil in a frying pan mixing with cold water.

Eruptions are likely to have very little or no warning, and the “how big” and “how long” are impossible to predict.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert Civil Air Patrol flight CAP20 reported plume tops at about 2.9km with the dispersed plume rising as high as 3.5km. USGS

Residents on the fringe of the national park are not in life-threatening hazardous conditions. But they are susceptible to the annoying “ash problem” where ash accumulation on electricity infrastructure interrupts supply, contaminates water, causes health hazards such as throat and lung irritation, and damages crops.

This will have complex social, health and economic impacts, further devastating communities if the summit activity does begin and is long-lived.

Society’s fascination of volcanic phenomena and the curiosity-driven need of people to know more, see more and experience more will make the safe management of the millions of tourists each year in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park a significant challenge.

Nearly 50km of bumper-to-bumper traffic to view the 1959 eruption of Kilauea testifies to the impending management issues.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert Bumper to bumper traffic on the way to see the eruption in 1959. YouTube/Centre for Study of Active Volcanoes/Screengrab

Exclusion and access will be an important and potentially long-lived management issue as the geological rock record at the summit tells a story of violent, centuries-long explosive activity.

Reading the rock record

Kīlauea is not a gentle giant of a volcano. It has a long-lived and violent explosive history as determined from detailed geological investigations of volcanic rocks and ash layers in the rock record.

The last period of violent explosive activity was between the years 1500 and 1800, when magma frequently interacted with the groundwater table deep within the volcano.

During those three centuries of activity, Kīlauea’s summit produced around 10km high columns and umbrella clouds of volcanic ash, short-lived violent explosions and ballistic ejecta, and ground-hugging high-velocity currents called pyroclastic density currents, which destroyed everything in their path.

This period is not without observation. Native Hawaiians were within the summit area and in 1790 at least 80 Hawaiian warriors were killed in a devastating hot, high velocity explosion that seared their lungs.

Read more: Lava, ash flows, mudslides and nasty gases: Good reasons to respect volcanoes

Back to basics: the geological rock record as a prediction tool

Kīlauea is one of Earth’s most well studied volcanoes. It has been the site of an active volcano observatory since 1912, and current monitoring technologies are state-of-the-art.

eruptions from Kīlauea volcano place the Hawaiian island on red alert Always a crowd pleaser: Visitors observing the Halemaʻumaʻu eruption in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in 2017. Bruce Houghton, University of Hawaii at Manoa, US, Author provided

Volcanic behaviour is by its nature complex. Prediction of the exact when, duration and how big is riddled with uncertainty despite sophisticated monitoring technologies.

As such, disaster management challenges are numerous, but observational records in 1924 and the geological rock record have certainly provided early warning of the timing, type and duration of possible violent activity at the summit, and therefore the protection of people within the national park.

Authors: Rebecca Carey, Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences, University of Tasmania

Read more http://theconversation.com/trouble-in-paradise-eruptions-from-kilauea-volcano-place-the-hawaiian-island-on-red-alert-96469

Australia Today

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

News Company

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is a way of creating a friendly bond with people, letting them know you’re happy to be in their presence, and projecting a positive ...

Read more

FROM OUTCASTS TO ROCKSTARS - WHEN DID PSYCHICS BECOME SO COOL?

Ralph Tucker

With trust in organised religion and established authorities such as governments at all time low, more and more people are searching for answers from a spiritual means elevating psychics to an unprecedented level of popularity in recent years.   Rose Smith heads up Absolute Soul Secrets, the lar...

Read more

Airwallex enters awards season

Jane Stabler

On the back of employing their 100th employee globally and their Shanghai staff moving into huge new premises, Melbourne based international payments company Airwallex is continuing to ride a wave of significant growth and success, with a series of award wins and nominations recently announced. Las...

Read more

When you're sick, the support you'll get may depend on the 'worth' of your disease

Louise Stone, Clinical Associate Professor, ANU Medical School, Australian National University

Diseases low on the hierarchy of prestige are often difficult to diagnose and treat.PixabayThe name of an illness can affect the level of care a person receives. Cancer sufferers experiencing fear and uncertainty may have access to cancer care centres. Donations and bequests enable these centres to ...

Read more

Israel is prioritising PR over peace-building in the Middle East

Paul Duffill, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem last week represented a major PR coup for Israel, a move the country had sought for decades. It also came hot on the heels of another celebrated Israeli PR victory – the win by Israeli singer Netta Barzilai in the hugely popular Eurovision song contes...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Matakauri Lodge and Mahu Whenua Lodge

TRIED, TRUE AND SOMETHING NEW  A luxurious accommodation package at Matakauri Lodge + Mahu Whenua Lodge South Island, New Zealand  Available 1 May, 2018 - 30 September, 2018   Central Otago, NEW ZEALAND –...

Heaven is the Adelaide Hills

Looking for a quick getaway? Enjoy food and wine? How about stunning countryside? Look no further! The Adelaide Hills has something for everyone. We flew to Adelaide for a weekend-getaway...

5 Amazing Australian Holiday Ideas

Australia is one of the most fantastic places in the world to travel, explore, and witness all of the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer. With so much rich...

Top Amenities You Enjoy by Renting Luxury Caravans for Road Trips

Do you love to undertake road trips? What the luxury cruises on the ocean are for ocean travelers, luxury caravanning is the same for land-lubbers. Traveling in a luxury caravan...

Here Are Some Extra Reasons for You to Visit the Cayman Islands

It’s no secret that the term ‘heaven on Earth’ gets tossed around a lot. We too are tired of seeing it used for places that have sandy beaches, palm trees...

FV by Peppers: Brisbane's Hottest New Hotel

Brisbane’s hottest new hotel, FV by Peppers has officially opened its doors with Mantra Group’s Chief Operating Officer Tomas Johnsson and the Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development and...

Long Island Boasts Signature Calendar of Events for Travelers in 2018

LONG ISLAND, NY (March 5, 2018) – There are many reasons to visit Long Island – New York City's Beachfront Backyard in 2018 from our most notable, the 120-miles of...

Places That Will Make You Want to Visit Indonesia This Year

Royalty, culture and history coalesce in Yogyakarta     Seasoned travellers wanting more than boutique shopping, hip bars and cutting edge restaurants are invited to try a new Indonesian island or include one...

Fashion & Beauty

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

Easy Dress-Up Tips for Lazy Girls

Look, getting all dolled up is fun, but you may not always be in the mood for it. Unfortunately, though, this is exactly when you are asked to go to...

HEALTH

How You Can Conquer Your Dental Anxiety

Does the thought of going to the dentist fill you with dread? Well, you will be pleased to know that you are not the only one. A large number of...

Up and away: the impact of flying on your health

These school holidays, many people will take to the skies, unaware of the risks flying can pose to their health. Brisbane based house call doctor Ryan Harvey said it was important...

How to Lose Weight After 40

As you age, your metabolism slows down, which makes losing weight much harder. Additionally, your hormones start to fluctuate significantly, causing easier weight gain. Sticking to the same tricks you...

Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle Despite A Busy Career

If you’ve been swamped at work lately and really focused on achieving that next big promotion or getting an important project completed, you may have found that your focus has...

AHRIA - Husband created a skincare range for his wife and child

Meet the Dad who was so worried about the chemicals his pregnant wife and baby were absorbing… Forget perfume or flowers… this husband created a skincare range for his wife...

Cinzia Cozzolinos shares her 7 Day Feb-Fast Detox

Nutritionist and Founder of Nutrition Darling and Smoothie Bombs shares her 7 Day Feb-Fast Detox.  Cinzia Cozzolinos Tips are below and her 7 Day Plant Based Eating Plan is...

LIFE STYLE

5 Simple Steps to Find the Right Workbenches for Sale

A workbench is a form of table that are designed for different works. These vary in size, shape and materials, yet have three common elements which are:   A tool meant for...

Oil the Sewing Machine, or Face the Dire Consequences

Sewing is an art! No art is complete without the right equipment. Sewing machine is the equipment that keeps this art alive. It is one of those machines that makes...

7 Easy Ways to Lift Up Your Home Style

House redecoration doesn’t have to be a difficult undertaking if you come up with some easy ways to lift up your home style. You just need to find solutions that...

Choosing your Water-Fed Poles: A Difficult Path Made Easy

Have you ever experienced the power of nature? No!? But, you must have seen floods or cyclones? May it be air or water, harness the power and you will have...

Keep your cool in the Far North with new 3-way fridge for the tropics

Bridging the gap that has long divided two-way and three-way refrigerator enthusiasts, Aussie Traveller’s new XCD caravan and motorhome fridge offers exceptional cooling power with the functionality of an...

Renovation Hot Spots: The Sydney Suburbs that had the biggest makeover

As Sydney’s housing boom begins to decline, ServiceSeeking.com.au looks back at the suburbs that have had the biggest makeover between 2017 and now. The find-a-tradie site has designed a map...

FOOD & DINING

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

5 Food Trends That Are Affecting Your Diet in 2018

With so many changes occurring in the food industry, we can’t help but ask ourselves how can this affect our diet and everyday life, right? It’s no wonder that these...