Geological survey researchers in Hawaii straightened their backs and paid full attention to the island state a few days ago, fully aware that things didn’t behave quite as usual in the good ol’ caldera of Halema’uma’u. With rumbling earthquakes every two minutes and a lava lake which suddenly dropped in height with approximately 500 feet, from firstly reaching a new record level on the 8th of May, it became obvious that Kilauea had something on her mind, or rather in her belly.
Extremely hard as it is, if even possible, to predict volcanic eruptions with certainty, the researchers from the USGS, United States Geological Survey, can only keep on registering any data they get from the suddenly very active area in the southeast parts of Hawaii, hoping to gather enough evidence before, or even if, Kilauea decides to erupt, so that a reasonable evacuation time will be available.
Even though the Kilauea and Halema’uma’u Crater in the southeast parts of the islands have been in a state of more or less regular ebbs and flows of lava and emissions of sulfur dioxide, ever since 2008 this time around, it’s still not a reason to lay back and look in another direction. Living in the proximity to one of the world’s most active volcanoes requires a healthy amount of attention. The wind constantly carries with it environmentally toxic gases and downfall to mostly the southern parts of the state, also causing Hawaiians sore throats, headaches and similar problems. Between 2009 and 2013 the U.S. government provided the farmers and other locals with financial support to compensate for the heavily affected animals and crops, and also the health issues occurring.
The Halema’uma’u Crater lies within the Kilauea caldera, and is about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) wide and 280 feet (85 metres) deep, and history tells that Kilauea had an eruption in 1790, where several people were killed. You got to admit: turning a bunch of volcanoes into the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park gives facing your fears a new angle to it – especially when considering it was done in back in 1916 already, when evacuation was just not as convenient and quick as nowadays.
The 30-40 kilometer long coastal area where Kilauea is situated has been closed off for visitors for years, although land developers are getting closer and closer to the hazardous zones that are likely to be overflowed with lava in the future.