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Volcanic Eruptions Strike Hawaii

Braedon Harris, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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After two weeks, the number of cracks in the ground continues to increase. Following a magnitude 5.0 earthquake in Hawaii on May 3, there have been over 20 of these openings, each releasing a steady flow of lava.

 

The earthquake, which struck Hawaii’s Big Island, resulted in the dramatic eruption of the Kilauea Volcano. Hawaii’s Big Island is the largest in the United States’ cluster of islands in the central Pacific, and the eruption has prompted large evacuation efforts due to spewing lava and the release of hazardous gases.

 

Eruptions are not uncommon for Kilauea. One opening in particular has been erupting almost continuously since 1983, causing no problems for nearby residents. However, the recent eruption has sent lava into nearby areas that have never been reached. The lava has destroyed over 40 homes and buildings, cut off road access and left land unusable.

 

Many are concerned that problems which have arisen after the eruption will continue in the months to come. Experts are unsure of when the volcano will calm down, and many suspect problems will worsen. There is speculation that the volcanic action in Hawaii will spark West Coast eruptions throughout the Ring of Fire, which is a major area in the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic action is prevalent.

 

In addition to the fears of larger eruptions, officials are worried about the release and formation of clouds of toxic gas. As lava has spread across the island, it has reached the Pacific Ocean. The interaction creates air pollution as heat from the lava boils the water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This has been referred to as “laze”,

a mixture of hydrochloric acid gas along with small volcanic gas particles. It can cause minor to severe levels of skin irritation and difficulty breathing. As these plumes of steam rise, they can be carried across the island by wind.

Concerns like this have led to a sharp decrease in tourism across Hawaii, which is a major industry that contributes to many local businesses. It has been reported that over the span of two weeks, there have been over $5 million in trip cancellations. The loss of interest in Hawaii, and especially the Kilauea on the Big Island, may prove troublesome for many. Many islanders depend on tourism to make a living, and without it local restaurant and shop owners will be left without customers.

 

Many people have reached out to help those  who have been affected by the eruption. Efforts are being coordinated to provide alternate routes for people who rely on roads, which have been destroyed for daily transit. In addition, people have come together to help those with damaged or destroyed homes by providing temporary housing and emergency repairs.

 

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