Hawaii volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators

Hundreds Forced To Evacuate After Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts

Getty Images | Handout

It's uncertain how big the explosions could be but scientists have said that Hawaii's Kilauea volcano appears to be mimicking behavior last seen in 1924.

Ron Peters, 59, knew it was time to leave his home in the Opihikao community, 2.6 miles from Leilani Estates, when fruit trees and other vegetation began to die in the rotten-egg-smelling clouds of sulfur-dioxide gas.

It sits on the edge of Leilani Estates, one of the areas where almost 2,000 residents have been forced to evacuate as Kilauea continues to spew lava.

US President Trump declared a major disaster in the Kilauea island of Hawaii days after series of quake and volcanic eruption. As that magma flows from the chamber and out of the fissures on the volcano's flanks, the lava level in the center crater falls.

Getty Images | Handout
Getty Images | Handout

As the volcanic eruption enters its second week - assessments continue and additional requests will be made when federal requirements are met.

As a lava lake at Kilauea's summit drains inside the volcano, magma is running underground.

Trump approved the Hawaii governor's request declaring the state a "major disaster" late Friday night ahead of warnings that continuing volcanic eruptions could cause huge damage to the islands and its residents.

No one lives in the immediate area of the summit crater.

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Janet Coney, office manager of the Kilauea Lodge, an inn and restaurant, said officials told her lodge employees probably won't have to worry about rocks raining down on them but might experience falling ash. Volcano and other nearby communities may be showered by pea-sized fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash but they aren't expected to get hit by large boulders, she said.

The problem lies at the summit of Kilauea, where a lava lake has been draining quickly at a rate of about 6.5 feet per hour, dropping 970 feet below the surface over the past week.

Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures - including 26 homes - since May 3, when it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of the summit crater.

Authorities ordered two subdivisions in the area to evacuate last week. The Puna Geothermal Venture plant has about 50,000 gallons (189,270 liters) of pentane. The lava then forced its way back to the surface through large cracks, or fissures, that opened at ground level in a residential area miles (km) away.

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The explosions would "provide very little warning", officials say, and could send "ballistic projectiles" - from the size of small pebbles to giant rocks - into the sky. "This is three football fields going down", Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, said.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could soon send boulders and ash shooting out of its summit crater.

Scientists can't be certain when the eruptions at Kilauea will stop.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said crews at a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak were accelerating the removal of stored flammable gas as a precaution.

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