Kilauea's latest outbreak devastates the Big Island with fiery lava flows and volcanic air pollution.
USA TODAY NETWORK
An 18th column of spurting lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has formed in the southeastern corner of the Big Island, officials said Sunday, raising fears state brackets for potentially violent eruptions.
The new crack, a crack on the ground that emanates lava, came when state and federal officials warned residents in this corner of the island to be ready to evacuate immediately.
The column was discovered west of State Highway 132, and led state officials to call some residents along Halekamahina Loop Road to evacuate their homes. Steam and lava splashes could be seen from the new column, officials said. It was not immediately clear how many residents were affected by the evacuation order.
Sunday saw unsettling volcanic activity, followed by two more columns announced Saturday by the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The agency warned of the possibility of an explosive eruption on the Halema & # 39; uma crater of the volcano due to the lava's continued withdrawal from the Kilauea summit lake.
"This could generate dangerous debris near the crater and ash up to ten miles off the wind," said the warning.
The danger comes from the lava content that falls into the volcano. When it falls below the water level, water will flow on the lava and produce steam that is likely to explode in a rain of rocks, ashes and sulfur dioxide from the summit.
Boulders as big as refrigerators could be thrown in half. Miles, and ash clouds could rise as high as 20,000 feet over a 12-mile-area, according to Hawaii Civil Defense.
Concerns have risen since the Kilauea erupted on May 3, sending 2.200-degree lava bursting through cracks in backyards in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, destroying 36 structures, including 26 houses. As the magma shifted underground, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the Big Island.
The two cracks discovered Saturday were about half a mile apart. Rift 16 produced a lava flow that traveled about 250 yards before breaking off at 2:30 in the afternoon, according to the geological survey.
The 16th crevasse was opened near a geothermal plant according to the USGS. Plant workers removed 50,000 gallons of pentane last week, which was stored on site.
President Trump declared the Big Island a major disaster area on Friday. The move will provide federal funding to state and local governments as they repair damaged roads, parks, schools, and aqueducts through the outbreak.
The Hawaii National Guard has prepared to use ground convoys and even helicopters to pick hundreds of residents if needed.
The Big Island, also known as the Island of Hawaii, has a population of about 190,000 people about 200 miles southeast of Oahu, the most populous island and capital of the state capital, Honolulu. The volcanic activity on the Big Island does not affect Oahu
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"We have all the warning signs we need," said Steve Brantley, deputy scientist The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the USGS. "There must be no additional warning before the magma actually comes to the surface."
The main threat is to residents of the Lower Puna region, a southeastern corner of the island, which could be evacuated when cracks cut path 132.
Civil Defense has warned lower Puna residents in the cities of Kapoho and Kalapana, to be alert for possible volcanic eruption and gas emissions and "be ready to evacuate immediately."
"Inhabitants of the lower Puna should remain informed and inspect the barriers, warnings and messages of the Hanover County Civil Defense," said the USGS.
The Hawaii National Guard is ready to rescue around 2,000 people with ground-based convoys in troop-bearing vehicles, if necessary, in Blackhawk or Chinook helicopters with only 90 minutes of warning
"We can move 226 people in one convoy with about an hour and a half notice and we would drop them off somewhere, the vehicles could come back and we would just do this round robin. "Lieutenant Colonel Shawn Tsuha told KHON TV.