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‘Likely More to Come’…’Mauna Loa Really Scares Us’ – Volcanologist 

‘Likely More to Come’…’Mauna Loa Really Scares Us’ – Volcanologist  86

A volcanologist tackles that and other burning questions about the Hawaii volcano

Cracks open in the ground. Lava creeps across roads, swallowing cars and homes. Fountains of molten rock shoot up to 70 meters high, catching treetops on fire.

After a month of rumbling warning signs, Kilauea, Hawaii’s most active volcano, began a new phase of eruption last week. The volcano spewed clouds of steam and ash into the air on May 3, and lava gushed through several new rifts on the volcano’s eastern slope. Threatened by clouds of toxic sulfur dioxide-laden gas that also burst from the rifts, about 1,700 residents of a housing subdivision called Leilani Estates were forced to flee their homes, which sat directly in the path of the encroaching lava.

The event marks the 62nd eruption episode along Kilauea’s eastern flank, which is really part of an ongoing volcanic eruption that started in 1983. The volcano is one of six that formed Hawaii’s Big Island over the past million years. Mauna Loa is the largest and most central; Kilauea, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kohala occupy the island’s edges. Mahukona is currently submerged. All six are shield volcanoes, with broad flanks composed of hardened lava flows.

Kilauea’s activity has now shifted to its southwest flank, which continues to steam. No new rifts have opened since May 7, but the eruption may be far from over, says Victoria Avery, a volcanologist and associate program coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program, based in Reston, Va.

Science News talked with Avery about Kilauea’s fury, the quakes and what to expect next from the volcano. Her responses were edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: Is there anything unusual about this eruption?

A: Not to scientists; it’s typical of what Kilauea volcano can do.

Q: Were there any warning signs?

A: We saw shallow earthquake activity under [the eastern flank of Kilauea] for several days. That tells us that molten rock is moving underground. We also saw that the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea was lowering; there’s a vent called Pu’u ‘O’o [which has erupted nearly continuously since 1983], and the floor [beneath its magma reservoir] collapsed on April 30. That told us that magma is being withdrawn and moved elsewhere. That collapse, plus the new seismicity, told us something was going to happen.

TOXIC CLOUD A plume of ash burst from Kilauea shortly after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the volcano’s south flank. U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

TOXIC CLOUD A plume of ash burst from Kilauea shortly after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the volcano’s south flank.
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Q. On May 4, two large earthquakes measuring magnitude 5.4 and magnitude 6.9 shook the Big Island in quick succession. How are they related to the eruption?

A: It’s not frequent but not unusual for Hawaii to have earthquake[s] like that, because a volcano is a very dynamic place. The [surface swelling] associated with the eruption probably triggered the quake[s]: The magma pushed on the volcano from inside. The whole south flank of Kilauea is an area that has a history of large earthquakes. We didn’t directly anticipate it, but we weren’t that surprised when it happened.

Q: Did the people who live there know they were in a hazardous zone?

A: The eruption is right on one of the rift zones of the volcano. The fact that there was a subdivision right on top of it, I can’t comment on. But those houses are right where we know it can erupt. Right now, [emergency managers] are allowing people back in briefly to check on their homes, but not allowing them to stay.

RIFT ZONE A helicopter flying over Leilani Estates on May 5 captured heat signatures of fissures (yellow labels) that had opened up within the subdivision along Kilauea’s eastern slope. White regions are the hottest. The subdivision was built in lava-flow hazard zone 1. That classification, based on the fact that volcano vents in the area are often active, is the highest hazard area designated by USGS.

RIFT ZONE A helicopter flying over Leilani Estates on May 5 captured heat signatures of fissures (yellow labels) that had opened up within the subdivision along Kilauea’s eastern slope. White regions are the hottest. The subdivision was built in lava-flow hazard zone 1. That classification, based on the fact that volcano vents in the area are often active, is the highest hazard area designated by USGS.

Q: How dangerous is the gas that’s also erupting with the lava?

A: The gas is chiefly carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The gas is actually what propels the [lava] to come out of the ground. Carbon dioxide in enough quantity can suffocate people. Sulfur dioxide can react with the atmosphere to create sulfuric acid. It forms “vog,” or volcanic fog, that can exacerbate asthma. That’s why they’re putting gas masks on people who go in to check on their homes.

Q: How are researchers monitoring this eruption?

A: We’re using the classic tools: instruments measuring seismicity and deformation, visual observations on the ground or flying over in helicopters, and thermal and deformation imagery from satellites. Using remote sensing, you can take [high-resolution images of ground elevation using] synthetic-aperture radar, or SAR, measurements at two different points in time to see the deformation.

050818_CG_kilauea_inline4_370Hawaii is a supersite, which means we get a lot of free SAR imagery over it, at about every two or three days. That may not be enough time for frequent eruption warnings, but it’s useful to monitor precursor activity and know what to look for. In the future, we’d like to use drones as well to monitor the eruptions.

Q: Nearby Mauna Loa is on yellow alert (to inform the aviation sector of potential ash hazards), because the volcano is showing signs of unrest. Is it at risk of erupting, too?

A: Mauna Loa really scares us. It is the largest volcano on the planet; it’s the big monster volcano of Hawaii. Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, but Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. But Mauna Loa can pump out much larger volumes and much faster. It has been yellow since September 2015, when there was elevated seismicity and deformation. It’s still a yellow, but it has quieted a bit.

Q: What’s next? Does the lull in activity at Kilauea mean the eruption is almost over?

A: It’s likely only a pause. The seismicity and deformation can wane and then build up again. The best we can do is watch precursor phenomena 24/7. [These include] the seismic data, the height of the lava lake and the deformation of the volcano along the rift zone. Where it swells, the magma is underneath it; where it goes down, the magma is withdrawing.

Q: The lava lake appears to be sinking again (as of May 6). Does that suggest more eruption is imminent?

A: It generally means that the lava is traveling down the rift zone. There’s likely more to come.

A: It’s likely only a pause. The seismicity and deformation can wane and then build up again. The best we can do is watch precursor phenomena 24/7. [These include] the seismic data, the height of the lava lake and the deformation of the volcano along the rift zone. Where it swells, the magma is underneath it; where it goes down, the magma is withdrawing.

Q: The lava lake appears to be sinking again (as of May 6). Does that suggest more eruption is imminent?

A: It generally means that the lava is traveling down the rift zone. There’s likely more to come.

WARNING SIGN Within Kilauea’s summit sits a lake of lava that volcanologists use to help gauge the movement of magma within the volcano’s plumbing system. On May 6, the lake level had sunk to about 220 meters below the crater rim, suggesting the magma was heading elsewhere along the volcano’s flanks. U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

WARNING SIGN Within Kilauea’s summit sits a lake of lava that volcanologists use to help gauge the movement of magma within the volcano’s plumbing system. On May 6, the lake level had sunk to about 220 meters below the crater rim, suggesting the magma was heading elsewhere along the volcano’s flanks.
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Carolyn Gramling
Science News

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Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 95

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 96

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 97

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

https://twitter.com/UndergroundSilk/status/1341741036297723905?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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