FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 14, 2018
Catch up on Kilauea news and describe the current status.
Besides having an active volcano, list two other ways Hawaii differs from your state.
Summarize other coverage of science or a natural event.
Daily scenes from what's called the Big Island of Hawaii are like something from a science fiction film. Super-hot rocks are spit hundreds of feet above ground. Toxic smoke darkens the sky and drops ash as though it were powdery rain. Glowing lava with a temperature of 2,200 degrees creeps ominously along evacuated streets. The cause is a natural phenomenon, not a fictional horror. An ancient volcano named Kilauea volcano began erupting May 3 after an earthquake, opening at least 19 dangerous trenches called fissures (pronounced FISH-yours) in residential areas. With no signs that the crisis will end soon, President Trump last Friday designated the situation a major disaster, which authorizes federal aid to rebuild roads, schools, parks and utilities on the Pacific island 2,400 miles west of California.
More than 1,900 people have been evacuated and dozens of homes have burned. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is shut indefinitely. Kilauea (KILL-ahh-WAY-ahh), on Hawaii's southeastern shore, is the most active of five volcanoes that form the island. It's 300,000 to 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. Eruptions been nearly continuous since 1983, though not always as lengthy and destructive as this month's. The last serious blast was in 1990.
Geologists warn that Kilauea could soon experience explosive eruptions from its summit and launch "ballistic" boulders the size of refrigerators miles into the sky, shutting air traffic and endangering lives in all directions. "If it goes up, it will come down," says Charles Mandeville of the U.S. Geological Survey. "You don't want to be underneath anything that weighs 10 tons when it’s coming out at 120 mph. . . . The volcano is capable of doing this. We know it is a distinct possibility." In 1924, Kilauea threw rock, ash and steam more than five miles into the sky for a couple of weeks.
Governor says: "As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger-scale evacuation increases." – Gov. David Ige, requesting federal help
Air quality risk: Sulfur dioxide is venting from the volcano and fissures it opens. That gas and other pollutants can settle with moisture and dust to create a haze called volcanic smog, or "vog," with tiny sulfuric acid droplets.
Tourism impact: Most of the island is unaffected and risk-free, travel promoters say. But the ominous threat, closed national park and off-limits beaches likely will keep some vacationers away for a while. Tourism is the island's No. 1 business.
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