Huge fissures open on Hawaiian volcano
PAHOA, Hawaii – Reuters
Two new fissures opened on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, hurling bursts of rock and magma with an ear-piercing screech on May 13, threatening nearby homes and prompting authorities to order new evacuations.
One new fissure from was a vivid gouge of magma with smoke pouring out both ends and was the 17th to open on the volcano since it began erupting on May 3. Some 37 buildings have been destroyed and nearly 2,000 people ordered to evacuate in the past 10 days.
Viewed from a helicopter, the crack appeared to be about 300 meters long and among the largest of those fracturing the side of Kilauea, a 1,200-meter volcano with a lake of lava at its summit.
“It is a near-constant roar akin to a full-throttle 747 interspersed with deafening, earth-shattering explosions that hurtle 45-kg lava bombs 30 meters into the air,” said Mark Clawson, 64, who lives uphill from the latest fissure and so far is defying an evacuation order.
Closer to the summit, in the evacuated Leilani Estates neighborhood of about 1,500 people, explosions could be heard in the distance as steam rose from cracks in the roads. The bulging rim of one fissure wrecked a building, leaving behind torn metal.
In areas where sulfur dioxide emissions were strong, the vegetation turned brown and leafless trees withered.
The U.S. Geological Survey warned that fissures could erupt throughout the area, and Civil Defense officials on May 13 ordered people living on Halekamahina Road to evacuate and be on the alert for gas emissions and lava spatter.