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Additional Hazards That Could Come with Hot Lava Flow, Spatter in Hawaii
An eruption from Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano has prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 residents and the declaration of a state of emergency in affected areas. There are reports of lava rolling into several areas including roadways, forestry areas and close to residential districts.
Jeffrey Karson is a geologist and professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. He is also one of the principal investigators of the Syracuse University Lava Project, which provides a laboratory setting to experiment with volcanic eruptions. Karson says this latest eruption in Hawaii represents just one small addition of lava to the mountain.
“Besides the danger of exposure to hot lava spatter and flows (~1200°C or 2200°F- 5 times hotter than your oven’s maximum temperature), other hazards are fissures opening along the rift zone, fires and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas emissions. The eruption could last for a few days or much longer.
“The ongoing eruption in Hawaii is no surprise. In a geological sense, this is ‘business as usual’. The big island of Hawaii is a giant volcano- the largest on Earth- most of which is below sea level. It has been built up by countless lava flows over about half a million (500,000) years. This eruption represents just one small addition of lava to that mountain.
“The Kilauea center has been erupting for decades and this is just a slightly more vigorous phase. Recently, lava from the summit of Kilauea has been advancing in surface flows. The current eruption is a fissure eruption with lava fountaining and flowing from vertical conduit injected along the East Rift Zone, comparable to the Holuhraun eruption in Iceland in 2014-15.”
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