Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano releases lava into residential area after days of earthquakes

U.S. & World

Lava has reached the surface of in a Hawaii neighborhood.

Residents from Luana Street to the end of Leilani Estates are being asked to evacuate, Hawaii County Civil Defense confirms.

Heavy smoke is visible throughout the neighborhood.

Civil Defense is on high alert on a 24-hour basis due to what is now a volcanic eruption in the lower Puna area.

Officials say all areas bordering the East Rift Zone, from Puu Oo crater down to Kapoho, are at high risk for eruption activities. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has identified magma movement in the lower East Rift Zone.

Residents are advised to stay informed and alert, and be prepared for immediate evacuation if necessary.

Volcanic activities can take place with little or no warning. Hazards include lava inundation, fire, smoke, methane gas explosion, earthquakes, and poor air quality.

Residents of high-risk areas are urged to prepare an emergency plan, and report any unusual events to Civil Defense at (808) 935-0031. If you need special assistance, call (808) 935-0031.

Evacuation shelters will be open as needed.

Hawaii County Civil Defense is working in close coordination with Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The entire county emergency response team has been activated.

Magnitude-5.0 quake rattles Hawaii island, sends ash plume skyward

A preliminary magnitude-5.0 earthquake jolted parts of Hawaii island Thursday morning.

It was recorded at 10:30 a.m. HST, roughly 4.3 miles southeast of Volcano, and initially reported as a magnitude-4.4 quake.

A map showing the location of the earthquake is posted on HVO’s website.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s “Did you feel it?” website received more than 500 felt reports from around the island within an hour after the quake.

The USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) says ground shaking from the quake caused rockfalls and possibly additional collapse into the Puu Oo crater on Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone. 

A short-lived plume of ash lofted skyward and slowly dissipated as it drifted southwest. Anyone downwind may have experienced a dusting of ash.

At this time, scientists say the earthquake caused no other changes at the volcano, and HVO will continue to closely watch monitoring data for any changes.

No tsunami was generated by the earthquake.

Scientists say this is not necessarily a sign that an eruption is coming, but thousands of residents in lower Puna still need to be prepared.

They say while the earthquake activity and eastward flow of magma have decreased, they have not stopped, so there still could be a chance of an eruption.

Click here for HVO’s latest updates on Kilauea.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials temporarily closed Naulu Trail, parts of Napau Trail and adjacent wilderness in Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone for public safety Thursday. 

The lava lake within Halemaumau Crater at the volcano’s summit dropped about 100 feet or more below the vent rim. Lava is no longer visible within Halemaumau, officials said.

“Today’s activity further supports the continued instability in the East Rift Zone,” said park superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Safety of visitors and staff is our highest priority.”

Residents prepare to evacuate

Residents are clearly on edge.

“Each event that’s happening right now these days is something new,” said Leilani Estates resident Petra Wiesenbauer. “It’s kind of hard to do any kind of other work except look at Facebook for the latest updates on what’s going on.”

Several cracks have appeared on roads in and around the neighborhood.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms the cracks are caused by an underlying “intrusion of magma.” One on Pohiki Road was so big, crews had to close down a section of it to place a metal plate to make it safe for vehicles.

“The biggest one we saw was on Pohiki Road. That’s the roadway that was shut down overnight. I think that was measured at about two-and-a-half inches and a half-inch wide, and then as they measured downward, it was about eight feet deep,” said Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator.

Scientists say these cracks are nothing to worry about yet.

“There was no heat signature and there was no steam, so it doesn’t seem that magma is rising towards the surface at this point,” said Janet Babb, HVO geologist.

“The county was on it last night making sure they were not a hazard to the community, and then HVO is also monitoring them. When those cracks were discovered, they were in the area. They were able to go and inspect them, measured them for gas and temperature, which none was detected, which pretty much reveals the magma is still deep within the crust area,” Magno added.

Many residents are have packed only the essentials and are ready to evacuate.

“If this opens up, I’ll leave. If they force me to leave, I’ll leave. Other than that, I ain’t planning to leave,” said Richard Jones. “Whatever happens, happens. That’s it. Deal with it as it comes.”

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