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Residents nervous as lava advances

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    Lava emerged from the tube that carried it downslope from Kilauea on Monday before it plunged from a sea cliff onto the growing delta below.
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Residents remained on edge as lava progressed toward the remaining homes in Kalapana Gardens subdivision at a rate of about 13.75 feet an hour as of yesterday afternoon.

A finger of lava consumed a two-story home early Sunday morning.

"It’s nerve-racking when it gets toward their residences," said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Quince Mento. Being "under that kind of threat on a constant basis, they just keep an eye open all the time."

"The lava does not seem to have advanced toward any structures so far," he said. "Puu Oo (Kilauea Volcano’s east rift vent) is inflating, which likely means lava is moving. We’re just looking to see where."

From a cursory glance, Mento "didn’t see anything moving aggressively," he said. "It seems to have stopped, almost."

Geologists are forecasting a continued eastward flow, filling in low areas, and the path is expected to widen.

"As of today, lava is still creeping toward the east, but activity today is less vigorous than in the previous few days," Janet Babb, spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said yesterday.

A narrow finger of lava, 30 to 65 feet wide, was expected to hit the ocean yesterday, the second ocean entry in three days, she said. (It was 65 feet from the ocean at noon yesterday.)

Rather than being a river of lava, the flow that originated Sunday, which has been descending over a sea cliff, is more aptly described as "a lot of lava dripping into the ocean across a flow front of about 330 feet wide," Babb said.

Much of the kipuka that existed west of Kalapana Gardens has been buried by lava, but bits of vegetation remain here and there, Babb said.

The volcanic activity draws about 2,000 visitors every evening, many of whom trespass across private property to get a closer view of the oozing molten rock, disturbing residents.

 

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