Hawaii Volcano

Nick Rippo, Staff Writer

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Recently Mount Kilauea has been spewing out ash almost six miles into the sky. Scientists have warned that this could be the first of many more violent explosive eruptions. Citizens have been warned to take shelter from the ash with toxic gas levels rising in the southeast area where lava has been bursting out of the earth during the two week eruption. The mouth of the crater vent has almost tripled in size in the past couple of days from about 12 acres in area to 34 acres. While this widening coincided with constant explosive eruptions from the crater recently, the enlargement was primarily caused by the interior walls of the crater vent collapsing as the magma continues to drop through the volcano.

Geologists say it is very unlikely Kilauea will have a massive eruption like that of 1790, which killed dozens of people in the most deadly event of this kind to occur in what is now the United States. Mount Kilauea’s falling lava lake has likely descended to a level at or below the water table, allowing water to run on to the top of its lava column and create steam-driven blast. There have been no deaths or serious injuries reported due to this. A spike in toxic sulphur dioxide gas has caused schools to close in the immediate areas around the volcano, where lava from huge cracks in the ground has destroyed many homes and other  such structures.  This has forced many to have to flee from their homes because of the imminent danger.

A change in wind direction caused volcanic gas to drift northwest towards Pahoa. This caused the National Guard troops to have to wear gas masks while they work on trying to control the problem. The Pahoa fire station recorded a red level of sulphur dioxide. This means that the gas could cause choking and an inability to breathe. There have been no deaths or serious injuries reported during the current eruption. An aviation red alert was in effect because of the risk that ash could be carried into aircraft routes and damage jet engines. The story goes on, and it seems the true power of this natural disaster may yet to be seen, as the story continues to unfold.