New rifts have opened on Hawaii's Big Island as earthquakes continue to shatter the island and warn scientists of further volcanic eruptions.
Officials announced the island's 17th rift on Saturday night, hours after a sixteenth split arose and released lava that covered 250 yards before settling. This gap opened near the Puna Geothermal Venture facility, where officials have taken precautionary measures to remove 60,000 gallons of flammable liquid.
A flat earthquake with a magnitude of 3.5 also struck the island on Saturday.
Nearly 2,000 residents were told to evacuate, and officials say they could force the evacuation of thousands more. Some residents, such as Scott Wiggers, who lives in Leilani Estates, have refused to leave. Wiggers House is just 3 km from one of the cracks.
"I woke up around 1 am and heard a roar – and that's 2 miles away – a roar like a jet engine – I go out and look out the window I see the sky turn red, I see how this gap opens in front of my eyes, a cinder cone is created and lava bubbles in the air, a hundred feet I stood about 50 meters away, I could feel the heat, it was probably 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and then I went down again, after I got some of my friends out of bed, and we stood a little closer the sound, the experience, the ground trembling. "
The Big Island has nine zones. The volcanic eruption covered zone 1 and zone 2 could be affected as well. Officials warn that further eruptions could spew rocks and boulders and spread clouds of ash 12 miles from the 4,000 foot high volcanic peak. Reuters reports that ventilators are sold out in some stores on the island. However, Wiggers says he has not bought one and wants to stay in his house for the time being.
"No one is forcibly evacuated, so I'm still here," he says. "They want to come and pull us out of our homes, but they do not support what we do, I speak of civil defense, they disagree with what we do."
Since the eruption of the volcano on 3 May, lava flows have destroyed 36 structures on the island, including 27 houses. In some parts of the island, the lava is as high as a four-story building.
Wiggers says, "In the last 24 hours, the earthquakes have started to rumble again … When I go out and look for some Through the cracks you can see where the sulfur deposits build up and where the lava rocks start, yellow
Last week, President Trump on the island declared a federal emergency that allowed federal aid. Most of this aid is used to repair roads, water pipes, parks and schools. Reuters reports that officials continue to rescue dozens of animals as well as horses and livestock.
The eruptions of the volcano are not new – the US geological survey says the volcano erupted in 1983. In the last two years, lava flows have added 443 acres to the southeast coast of the island. In 1990, 80 feet of lava buried more than 100 houses.
In the coming days, the inhabitants are preparing for further eruptions. Geologists say that the lava lake in the crater of the volcano is falling rapidly, which could lead to a steam-driven explosion if the lava falls below the groundwater level.