30 Years of Eruption Hits Nearby Civilization at Kīlauea

Kasey Moore

May 11, 2018

30 Years of Eruption Hits Nearby Civilization at Kīlauea

Since January 1983, the Kīlauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has been erupting continuously and in 2018, several more lava vents opened in the lower Puna area. These new vents were accompanied by a level 6.9 magnitude that caused over 2,000 residents in the Leilani Estates in Puna, Hawaii. The Leilani Estates are over forty miles away from the summit of Kīlauea, showing how far the lava has spread across the Big Island is a new fissure can open there.

There are two main craters that are in constant eruption are located at the summit of Kīlauea and a rift named Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The floor at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō rift recently collapsed, causing the lava within in it to drain onto the nearby ground.

The evacuation zone has been rapidly expanding since the beginning of May as new fissures, or long cracks in the earth, have been opening up in streets and neighborhoods all over Puna. One resident, Heide Austin, left her home as cracks in her driveway begin to appear in fear that a fissure will open somewhere near or just outside of her house. Also, lava fountains could be seen from the estates reaching heights of 230 feet from a fissure.

The new eruptions prompted the governor of Hawaii, David Ige, to request help from both the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) in order for the state to recover. The island has faced ash and lava that amounts to the size of 75 football fields and has destroyed 35 structures along with the increase in magma supply in the two main craters of Kīlauea.

On Monday, some residences of the Leilani Estates were able to return to their homes to retrieve pets, medication, and vital documents, but there are many forced to stay away. Those living in the neighboring Lanipuna Gardens did not share the same fate because of the harmful volcanic gas in the area.

Local police even arrested two people after they attempted to get past the roadblocks surrounding the Leilani Estates.

Volcanoes are unique in function compared to the other natural disasters that plague the United States each year. While tornadoes and hurricanes build the same pressure, once it loses said pressure, the storm ends for good. But, it’s not the same story with volcanoes, they build great amounts of pressure, release it, and then they could pause. It’s a never-ending cycle until there is no more magma to build the pressure with.

Though there was a pause in the fissure activity in Puna, it’s unlikely that it’s the end and rather it’s a pause in the lava flow as it creates more pressure. Since the initial eruption at the end of April, there have been 12 new fissures created along the Kīlauea area.

One place may seem safe, but in a few moments, it could turn deadly quickly and even just being exposed to the gas can harm you for breathing it in, or feel the extreme heat that accompanies it.

Along with the fear of volcanic activity, the people have faced earthquakes, cracks in structure, and the sulfur dioxide that makes up the deadly gasses. On Highway 130, cracks have widened from 7 centimeters to 8 over the day and more have been appearing all over the place. After that 6.9 magnitude earthquake, the island has been faced with an average of one quake per hour.

Tracy Gregg, a professor in geology at the University of Buffalo, says that they have no idea when the eruption will end, it could be days, months, or even years before this could end.

Works Cited

“Leilani Estates, Hawaii.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leilani_Estates,_Hawaii.

Hilo, Hawaii Associated Press in. “Hawaii Volcano Eruption: Governor Requests Emergency Assistance.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 May 2018, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/08/hawaii-volcano-eruption-latest-news-kilauea-leilani-estates-federal-help

“Where the Earth Is Erupting on the Big Island.” The Washington Post, WP Company, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/hawaii-volcano/?utm_term=.5e4864084080.

Kennedy, Merrit. “Days, Weeks, Years? Scientists Say Hawaii Volcano Eruption Has No End In Sight.” NPR, NPR, 8 May 2018, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/08/609503580/days-weeks-years-scientists-say-hawaiis-erupting-volcano-has-no-end-in-sight.

Park, Madison, et al. “Hawaii Volcano Eruption Brings New Evacuation Order.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 May 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/05/08/us/hawaii-Kilauea-volcano/index.html.