Kilauea volcano: Residents along the East Rift Zone told to prepare to evacuate

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Lower Puna officials in Hawaii are preparing for a possible eruption amid continuous earthquakes along the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano. The preparations include the identification of shelters, mobilization of police and other security personnel to ensure residents’ safety, and road crews to ensure access to evacuation routes.

"Should an eruption occur, residents along the East Rift Zone may have little warning and should be prepared to evacuate," said Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno, adding that the County will keep the community informed about the situation.

"All agencies have been alerted about the possibility of an eruption," Magno said. "The risk areas and possible hazards are being identified, and shelters have been identified."

Recent observations

Elevated rates of seismicity and deformation at Kīlauea Volcano along a section of the lower East Rift Zone east of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent continue, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) reported 05:23 UTC on Thursday, May 3, 2018.

This activity is associated with the continued intrusion of magma into the East Rift Zone to locations east of Highway 130 and an outbreak of lava from the lower East Rift Zone remains a possible outcome of the continued unrest, HVO warns. At this time it is not possible to say with certainty if or where such an outbreak may occur, but the area downrift (east) of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō remains the most likely location.

A GPS station located about 1.5 km (1 mile) southwest of Nanawale Estates began moving toward the north on Wednesday morning local time, indicating the magma intrusion is approaching this area of the East Rift Zone. The station has already moved several centimeters.

A tiltmeter at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō recorded steady, deflationary tilt during the day, with several sharp inflation offsets. These offsets probably recorded the continued episodic collapse of the crater floor. Some of these offsets corresponded to short-lived ashy plumes rising from the crater.

Tiltmeters at the summit began recording an increased deflationary tilt this afternoon. The summit lava lake level has lowered about 20 m (65 feet) since the deflationary tilt began in the early morning on May 1.

New small ground cracks less than a few cm (inches) wide developed yesterday across a couple of roads in and adjacent to Leilani Estates. These cracks reflect the buildup of stress at the surface due to the magma intrusion. No steam or gases were observed escaping from the cracks.

Analysis of webcam images of the 61g lava flow field on May 1 indicates that surface flows within a few kilometers of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō have stopped advancing – the few areas of incandescence visible in the images did not move starting early morning on May 1. The 61g flow is likely no longer being supplied with lava from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō.

Current webcam images for Kīlauea's Summit and East Rift Zone can be found at the following link.

Featured image credit: Big Island Video News

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