After a week of earthquakes, lava flows and new fissures Kilauea volcano continues to erupt on Hawaii’s Big Island. The flow of lava intensified Sunday (yesterday) from ongoing eruptions at Hawaii Island’s Kilauea volcano, and molten rock is pouring from fissures that opened overnight, farther from the original eruptions. There have been more than 1,000 earthquakes over the last week around Kilauea, produced by the volcano making room for new flows of magma occurring inside it.
Residents have been evacuated from two remote, rural neighbourhoods on the eastern edge of Hawaii Island where the lava is emerging from the fissures. An estimated 1,800 people live in the affected area, and many have sought housing in shelters, with friends or on surrounding islands. At the last count over 30 homes have been lost to lava flows.
Toxic sulfur dioxide gas spewing near the fissures is at lethal concentrations, said U.S. Geological Survey volcano scientist Wendy Stovall. Lava fountains emerging from the cracks in the ground are producing even more gas than previously observed. As lava inundates the heavily forested area, organic matter burns and releases methane. “That methane gas can get trapped in pockets beneath lava flows or underground, and explode out violently, throwing rocks and debris in every direction,” Stovall said.
Hawaii tourism officials emphasized that the volcano threat was limited to a remote region of eastern Hawaii Island and no flights to any airports in the state are being affected.