Our nation’s premiere tropical paradise is still smoldering under the expulsion of molten rock from Mount Kilauea this week, with thousands of tourists getting a little more than they bargained for.
While this phase of the volcano’s eruption is less explosive than other possible scenarios, it has allowed for tourists and residents to get and up close and personal look at a fairly rare event. Certainly plenty of incredibly clever keepsakes are being groomed in the shadow of this sleeping giant, including the time-honored tradition of singing the edges of a postcard in the lava flow before sending it off to a loved one back home.
But things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows during the volcanic eruption either. Earthquakes, ash plumes, and toxic gasses are abound, giving Hawaii a far less idyllic motif at the moment. One with a dark sense of humor may suggest harnessing the volcano’s power for life’s mundane tasks, such as cooking, but authorities are issuing extremely clear warnings against just such a move.
Erm…we're going to have to say no, that's not safe. (Please don't try!) If the vent is emitting a lot of SO2 or H2S, they would taste BAD. And if you add sulfuric acid (in vog, for example) to sugar, you get a pretty spectacular reaction.
— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) May 29, 2018
This isn’t the only new warning regarding Kilauea either.
The USGS has issued a number of more formal warnings in the weeks since the Kilauea Volcano erupted in Hawaii, causing many residents in the nearby Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens to evacuate as more fissures open and the lava flow slowly moved, eventually hitting the ocean. The USGS has issued a warning for the volcano — the highest alert-level possible that means a “hazardous eruption is imminent, underway or suspected,” according to the USGS website. The agency had also issued a red-level aviation code, which warns an eruption is imminent or underway with significant volcanic ash and plume in the air.
Residents of The Aloha State have largely treated the volcano living on their doorstep with the same regard as one would a 100-year storm or other such disaster, complete with lengthy communication to their insurance companies.
The real concern regarding the recent eruption and concurring earthquakes is the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Hilina Slump, a mass of land that would create what scientists have called a megatsunami with an ETA of 6 hours to the west coast of the United States.