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Volcanoes National Park remains closed as Halemaumau Crater continues to grow

  • COURTESY NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE

    A deep crack on the Jaggar Museum Overlook. Although earthquakes decreased over the weekend, the majority of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a top attraction for the state, remains closed due to damage and will not be reopening any time soon.

Although earthquakes decreased over the weekend, the majority of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a top attraction for the state, remains closed due to damage and will not be reopening any time soon.

“It’s impossible to say when the park can reopen, what it’s going to look like and what the visitor experience will be,” said park superintendent Cindy Orlando in a news release. “We are cautiously optimistic that seismicity decreased over the weekend. Everyone’s safety is our top priority and we are still in an unpredictable and hazardous phase of this eruption cycle. Right now, the only certainty is uncertainty.”

Jaggar Museum and the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory buildings also sustained damage, and remain empty.

The national park has been shuttered since May 11 due to hazards caused by frequent earthquakes due to collapse events at the summit of Kilauea.

Summit collapse events, which typically trigger earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher, have riddled Highway 11, several park roads, overlooks and trails with dangerous sinkholes and cracks, according to the National Park Service. There have been more than 60 collapse events at the summit since the park’s closure.

Halemaumau has more than quadrupled in size. Once 280 feet deep, the crater is now more than 1,500 feet deep in places. Its volume has increased to 800 million cubic meters, according to USGS, or about 300,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The status of Thurston Lava Tube remains unknown because sending anyone to investigate inside would be too risky, NPS said.

In addition, broken waterlines have left the park without running water, but fixing them makes little sense as long as the earthquakes continue. Only when the destructive earthquakes subside, NPS said, will the park be able to fully assess damages, clean up and develop a strategy to reopen.

The park’s Kahuku Unit, located about an hour’s drive south of the park’s main entrance, remains open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

“We miss being in the park, we miss sharing Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with visitors from around the world and across the street,” said Orlando. “We realize the extended closure is very hard on our community and disappointing to travelers. It’s hard on all of us, and we appreciate everyone’s continued understanding and support.”

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