On Friday, May 4, an active volcano in Hawaii continued its siege on the surrounding community. Eruptions involving Kilauea, on the Big Island's eastern edge, began on Thursday. Officials ordered residents there to evacuate, and for good reason. The video of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupting alone is enough to make anyone want to run the other direction.
One video by ABC showed reddish-orange lava spurting out from street level. In another clip, aerial drone footage by Jeremiah Osuna showed lava pouring through trees.
Thursday's first eruption emanated from the East Rift Zone, a fissure in the volcano separate from the summit, and ended around 6:30 p.m. local time. The split was nearly 500 feet long, with a spread of about 30 feet, and was actively bubbling for about two hours, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's volcano feed. Eruptions continued into Friday morning, though, as a new vent opened up and began spewing lava in the same area.
Residents were urged to flee their homes in the Leilani Subdivision, and the lava was said to threaten some 770 structures. The mandatory evacuations affected upwards of 1,500 people, including residents of from Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
"The danger is of such magnitude that it warrants preemptive and protective action in order to provide for the safety, health and welfare of the residents of Leilani Estates and surrounding areas," read a statement by Gov. David Ige's office.
One resident told the Star Advertiser that, as of about 5:30 p.m. local time Thursday, lava was shooting 150 feet into the air (which is roughy 150 feet higher than I'd personally want to have lava shooting into the air while in its proximity).
"I don't think people thought this would actually happen," Matthew Purvis, a local bakery owner, said according to the Times. "It was just a moment's notice. It's pretty wild."
Aside from the lava, the Star Advertiser reports that "extremely high levels" of sulfur dioxide gas was present in the area. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sulfur dioxide, or SO2, can cause difficulty breathing and damage the ecosystem; it's especially dangerous for children or those with respiratory diseases.
Photos of the eruption showed thick plumes of smoke tinged a pinkish color. "The plume is pink because a lot of the rock surrounding the crater is red, oxidized because of the high temps," tweeted volcanologist Dr. Janine Krippner. "Fine rock ash/dust is was entrained into the plume during the explosion."
The eruptions were prompted by geological tremors this week, spurred by the collapse in the floor of the nearby crater Puu Oo. A near-constant series of earthquakes had been occurring leading up to the eruption, per CNN, with one resident saying it felt like the quakes were coming about every minute. From Monday through Tuesday night, there were about 250 quakes reported, all of about 2.0 magnitude. The largest, a 5.0 magnitude tremor, occurred on Thursday morning.
While residents have fled their homes, two shelters have been opened up to accommodate the evacuees, the Times reports. Per the Star Advertiser, Uber was offering discounts on rides for evacuees to the shelters.
Kilauea, part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is one of the world's most active volcanoes, and officials said that it was possible more eruptions could happen at any time. "The opening phases of fissure eruptions are dynamic," said the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, per the Times, adding that "new lava outbreaks may occur," though it wasn't known where. The national park remained open to the public on Friday, though thousands of acres had been closed off due to the possibility of eruption.