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Scientist says no imminent threat from Puna lava

  • USGSSlow-moving pāhoehoe advances through thick forest northeast of PuÊ»u Ê»Å?ʻō. The pāhoehoe lobes surround, and burn through, the base of the trees. By the time the trees topple over, the lava surface temperature has cooled sufficiently that the downed trees do not completely burn through, leaving a field of tree trunks on the recent lava surface. One tree in the center of the photograph is completely surrounded by active lava, and likely on the brink of toppling over.
    USGS
    Slow-moving pāhoehoe advances through thick forest northeast of PuÊ»u Ê»Å?ʻō. The pāhoehoe lobes surround, and burn through, the base of the trees. By the time the trees topple over, the lava surface temperature has cooled sufficiently that the downed trees do not completely burn through, leaving a field of tree trunks on the recent lava surface. One tree in the center of the photograph is completely surrounded by active lava, and likely on the brink of toppling over.

HILO >> Pahoa community members are being assured that a lava flow doesn’t pose an immediate threat.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua told a packed community meeting Thursday the flow appears to be "weeks to months" from reaching Kaohe homesteads or other neighborhoods south of Pahoa. He said the part of the flow closest to the homes appears to have stalled.

Scientists continue to monitor what’s known as the June 27 flow, named for the date is was observed emerging from the flank of Puu Oo on Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone.

As of Thursday, the easternmost tip was about 2 miles from the homesteads, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. The active surface flow was still more than 5 miles away, Kauahikaua said.

"The lava flow continues to be active, although relatively weakly active," he said. It is difficult to predict the speed and direction of the flow, he said.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials will call for evacuations if lava appears to be within five days of reaching populated areas.

"While we are cautiously optimistic that this part of the flow is inactive, we will continue to watch it over the coming days," said an eruption update handed out to those who attended the meeting. "Currently, the flow is not posing an immediate threat to area residences and critical infrastructure such as major roadways and highways."

County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the county is preparing to open up alternate roadways, in case movement of the flow indicates it could cross major roadways in Puna.

A handout also included information about how to prepare. Civil Defense officials are providing hourly updates to the island’s radio stations to keep residents informed.

Residents that could be impacted from the lava are still reeling from damage in the weeks after Tropical Strom Iselle made landfall over the Puna region.

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