USGS: Raised potential for explosive eruptions

Living upslope, I had been thinking I was comfortably distanced from the drama of the recent eruption: the burning houses are all near the coastline.  Yes, it is true that lava breakouts are not expected in my neck of the woods. And yesterday I felt some measure of relief after listening to a scientist on a podcast say another large earthquake was not anticipated (smaller ones, yes, but not another 6.9). So far, the worst I have known is jangled nerves and a sore throat from poor air quality. Then I received this alert from the USGS: “If the lava column drops to the level of groundwater beneath Kilauea Caldera, influx of water into the conduit could cause steam-driven explosions. Debris expelled during such explosions could impact the area surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu and the Kilauea summit.”

I live just a few miles from Halemaʻumaʻu.

From my bed, I can see the glow of the caldera on clear nights.

lava advancing on house

lava burnign house 2

More from the USGS message:

BALLISTIC PROJECTILES: During steam-driven explosions, ballistic blocks up to 2 m (yards) across could be thrown in all directions to a distance of 1 km (0.6 miles) or more. These blocks could weigh a few kilograms (pounds) to several tons (emphasis mine). Smaller (pebble-size) rocks could be sent several kilometers (miles) from Halemaʻumaʻu.

GAS: Gas emitted during steam-drive explosions will be mainly steam, but will include some sulfur dioxide (SO2) as well. Currently, SO2 emissions remain elevated.

WARNING TIME: Steam-driven explosions at volcanoes typically provide very little warning. Once the lava level reaches the groundwater elevation, onset of continuous ashy plumes or a sequence of violent steam-driven explosions may be the first sign that activity of concern has commenced (emphasis mine).

lava in a row

I drove to Hilo yesterday for errands. Everyone everywhere shared tales of the eruption; there was much stress in the atmosphere. Friends have been telling me their eyes are swollen, their plants are dying; those with pets have unique worries.

Many people are upset, yet I have been reading stories of great kindness, even from those who just lost their own homes.

So, it is crazy times here on Hawaii Island.  As for me, I am not in immediate danger of watching my house be consumed by lava.  I don’t have furry friends to be concerned for.  If I stay inside it will reduce my exposure to the pervasive SO2.  There isn’t anything I can do about the acid rain in my drinking water.

And, in a couple of weeks, ash and rocks may rain down on my roof (or head!).

Yesterday, I felt one way: I was an outside observer. Today I feel very different.

All photos from Hawaii News Now online.

6 thoughts on “USGS: Raised potential for explosive eruptions”

  1. I am glad to hear about smaller earthquakes. I had heard something different earlier in the week, but not a credible source. Take care and keep us posted concerning explosive action.

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  2. Nicely written Nancy!

    On Wed, May 9, 2018, 2:08 PM SchinyDays – What it looks like from my neck of the woods wrote:

    > schinygirl posted: “Living upslope, I had been thinking I was comfortably > distanced from the drama of the recent eruption: the burning houses are all > near the coastline. Yes, it is true that lava breakouts are not expected > in my neck of the woods. And yesterday I felt some ” >

    Like

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