Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has shown no sign that her fury will soon abate. On May 3, the eruption split the earth open wide, exposing an ever-widening wound that bled molten stone. The eruption was typical of the volcano, which frequently erupts “not at the summit but through cracks on the volcano,” according to German Research Centre for Geosciences expert Eleonora Rivalta. Locals, however, were certain that the Hawaiian goddess Pele had simply decided to retake her land.
By the morning of May 7, ten fissures had opened throughout Big Island, a subdivision of eastern Puna. Thirty-five buildings — including 26 homes — have been destroyed, according to the County of Hawaii Civil Defense Alert system. Of course, according to their spokesperson Janet Snyder, “that number could change.”
Worse, the violence of the eruption may yet increase. As fissures open in a northeast-southwest line in the “rift zone,” the U.S. Geological Survey said that the magma will find a “preferred pathway.” As the other fissures begin to cool and harden, the pressure in that pathway could drastically increase. At that point, the current 330-foot plumes of lava could surpass even 1,000 feet.
On Hawaii News Now, Mayor Harry Kim called the broadening destruction a “fast moving situation” and said that it was, “unfortunately not the end.” Meanwhile, about 1,700 Hawaiians have been displaced from their homes. Toxic sulfur dioxide gas makes the area especially dangerous, even for the would-be photojournalists chronicling the eruption on film.
“Please, the residents of Leilani need your help by staying out of the area,” said the county’s civil defense agency. “This is not the time for sightseeing.”