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Just yesterday, we posted an item concerning the heavy influx of toxic sulfur dioxide
gas at the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The poisonous gas forced park officials to close sections of the park, but they mentioned at the time that chances for an explosive eruption were minimal.
Last night at 3 a.m., an explosion in Kilauea's main Halemaumau Crater
shot debris over about 75 acres, damaging a wooden fence surrounding the crater and blocking paths and roads with rock hazards. It was the first explosion for the 4,190-f00t volcano since 1924. There wasn't any lava present, so park scientists think pressure built up from gases and hydrothermal activity caused the blast.
National Park officials expanded the closed-off areas in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and refined plans for evacuation, should more eruptions threaten the surrounding community with poison gas or debris danger. Despite this being the highpoint in a three-month escalation of activity on Kilauea, scientists caution that there's still only a remote possibility of a massive eruption inside the half-mile wide Halemaumau Crater.
They're the experts; I'm sure their prognostications are pretty on-point. But if I lived close by I'd be just a hair nervous, since that's what they said last time. — Ted Alvarez
Rare Explosion Jolts Hawaii Volcano (AP)
Thursday, March 20, 2008 in:
, National Parks News
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Here's the thing about volcanoes: They're beautiful and fascinating, sure, but they're also chock-full of lethal hazards like lava and poisonous gas. A major increase in poisonous sulfur dioxide gas
seeping from the Halema'uma'u Crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park forced park officials to formulate an evacuation plan to protect both visitors and locals from the super-toxic fumes.
But locals shouldn't go all Dante's Peak just yet — trade winds and rains have gone a long way to dispersing and diluting any danger posed by the influx of sulfur dioxide. To prevent any chance accidents, the park closed the popular Crater Rim drive, which passes the south caldera and the source of the fumes.
Karen Newton with the Park Service's Pacific West Regional Official said this afternoon that things are "kind of in a holding pattern right now" as trade winds and rains have kept the gases from drifting towards developed areas surrounding the park.
"They're still prepared, but they haven't issued an evacuation order yet," said the ranger.
The upswing in toxic fumes came when a new vent opened on Mount Kilauea's summit March 13, doubling the already elevated levels of sulfur dioxide. Chances for a full-blown eruption are small, but even if it were to happen, Hawaii's volcanoes usually erupt with increased lava flows rather than catastrophic explosions.
"If the summit should erupt, the SO2 levels would fall and then we'd have the greatest tourist destination in the world," said Ranger Newton.
That sounds like an amazing sight...but if it happens, I think I'll just let someone else go first. — Ted Alvarez
Evacuation Plans Prepared for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Due to High SO2 Levels (National Parks Traveler)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 in:
, National Park News
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