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Lava Threat: flow crosses Highway 137, enters the ocean

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to monitor active flows.Flow front #1 has crossed Highway 137 at the 13...

Posted: May 21, 2018 5:27 AM
Updated: May 21, 2018 5:28 AM

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory continues to monitor active flows.

Flow front #1 has crossed Highway 137 at the 13-mile marker and has entered the ocean.

Flow front #2 is approximately 400 M from Highway 137.

Highway 137 is closed between Kamaili Road and Pohoiki Road.

Kamaili Road is closed between Highway 130 and Highway 137.

Residents in the area have been evacuated. All persons are asked to stay out of the area.

The lava has entered the ocean. Be aware of the laze hazard and stay away from any ocean plume.

· Laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air.

· Health hazards of laze include lung, eye and skin irritation.

· Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning.

Another road in danger, and residents on edge as the amount of lava erupting from the Big Island increases. Flows are now moving faster.

Lava pouring out from four different fissures formed one larger stream, part of which threatens an important way out for lower Puna residents. Saturday night is expected to be another busy night, just like Friday night when there was an ash eruption and a sudden shift in lava.

Lava pouring from fissures along the East Rift Zone woke up some Leilani estate residents just after midnight. Leilani Estates resdient Stephen Yund recalls, "All the fissures started pouring out lava and they went 'boom ba-boom ba- boom,' just like that, and it sounded like a war started."

What happened was, lava coming out out fissure 20 made an unexpected turn. Faster flowing lava quickly blocked Pohoiki Road. Lava flows faster because it is newer, more fluid magma.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Carolyn Parcheta says, "I would expect it to stay pretty quick until it hits the coastal plain, which is before the highway. It will keep moving forward but spread out, which will slow the advance rate."

As fissures fired off, rivers of lava moves down the slopes toward the ocean. Yundt describes, "The magma is shooting high in the sky, it lights up the clouds.You can actually see the reflection of the magma in the clouds because we're so close to it."

The lava is on the move so quickly, a trip inside off-limits areas of Pohoiki Road with the Hawaii National Guard was turned around so residents could evacuate. This sudden advance of lava is not the only surprise from Kilauea.

Experts on this active volcano gathered to share what they know- and what they have discovered is Kilauea has a history of explosive ash eruptions. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Don Swanson sums, "For the past 2,500 years we've had explosions more than 50% of the time, so this is the norm for Kilauea. But most of the explosions are minor, like we saw today, with small plumes of ash and steam rising from the summit."

There have also been more violent eruptions along the rift zone, and while there remains the possibility of stronger more powerful events insuring this eruption, scientists say they are not likely- but they are possible.

Parcheta concludes, "We thought Kilauea was a docile volcano that can erupt lava that can cause extensive damage but not be explosive- but that is not the case."

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