President Trump Declares Kilauea Eruption A Major Disaster

Geneva Stokes
May 13, 2018

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's decision to close Friday due to the risk of an explosive eruption will discourage travelers, said Janet Coney, the office manager at Kilauea Lodge, an inn in Volcano. Eventually, this may lead to an explosion that could shoot rocks as large as several tons up to half a mile away, pebbles several miles away and plume of ash up to 20 miles away.

Depending on wind conditions, dustings of ash may occur in the Kīlauea summit area and downwind.

But a Flagstaff volcanologist said not to worry, that an increase in tourism traffic would be a bigger hassle than anything volcanoes in the area could cough up. Volcano and other nearby communities may be showered by pea-sized fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash but they aren't expected to get hit by large boulders, she said.

Additional funds are needed to address the permanent damage the volcanic activity and earthquakes have caused, he added.

Authorities previously ordered almost 2,000 residents to leave the neighborhoods in and around the vents in the mostly rural district of Puna.

Plant manager Mike Kaleikini said Thursday that all the fuel was moved off-site to a secure location. The volcanic vents have oozed relatively cool, sluggish magma left over, according to scientists, from a similar event in 1955. And with new fissures opening closer to the edge of the plant, residents are getting even more anxious.

Federal funding is available to state, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis, the White House said. However, natural disaster activity and ground deformation continue and additional outbreaks in the general area of Leilani Estates are likely. "They should have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C", said Roann Okomura, a county official who is helping run one of the shelters set up for evacuees.

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The Puna Geothermal Venture is owned by Nevada company Ormat Technologies. But this has caused rock and debris from the crater's edges to fall into the hole, which has sparked columns of ash to rise from the crater.

No new fissures have emerged, leaving the total number at 15, authorities said. Some two dozen homes have burned. However, thermal images indicate continued lowering of the lake surface since that time, consistent with deflationary tilt recorded at Kilauea's summit.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since our last report, and geologists are now warning that it may be entering a new phase of explosive eruption not seen in nearly a century.

While Kilauea has the potential to fire rocks and boulders into the sky, no one resides in the immediate area of the summit crater, part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which was set to be closed Friday.

Scientists believe the lava that has been erupting has been stored in the ground since the last eruption 63 years ago.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed a request for a presidential disaster declaration on Wednesday, stating in a press release that a larger-scale evacuation may be necessary as the eruption develops.

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