Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano appears to be calming down, for now, although what that bodes for the future is anyone’s guess, AOL News is reporting.
Lava continues to pour from fissures on the mountain’s slopes, wreaking havoc across the big island, but the crater has stopped erupting, for now. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geophysicist Kyle Anderson says that it’s been more-or-less quiet since Wednesday.
Aircraft flying over the volcano’s crater note that tons of volcanic material, shaken loose from the recent eruption, has settled down over the molten lava underneath, essentially creating a cap.
That means at least one dangerous aspect of Kilauea’s activity is no more: the tons of volcanic detritus that has been blasted into the atmosphere, which has bedeviled Hawaiians and threatened untold respiratory and other problems, will no longer be a threat. At least, until the next eruption.
So when will that next eruption be? Really, there’s no telling, says Anderson. The mountain could erupt again tomorrow, or it may lie dormant for the next several centuries, or recent events may signal that Kilauea has breathed its last (so to speak).
“It’s possible that new explosions will blast through the rubble at the bottom of the vent, and these may or may not be larger than previous explosions. It’s also possible that the vent could become permanently blocked, ending the explosions entirely.”
That’s not to say that Hawaiians are out of the woods entirely. Lava continues to ooze out of the mountain, as do noxious gases. Meanwhile, the danger remains from what is known as “Pele’s hair,” thin strands of volcanic glass fibers, similar to asbestos, that can get into your eyes, your lungs, and your skin (Pele is the Hawaiian volcano goddess). Similarly, as molten lava reaches the nearby Pacific Ocean, the resulting “laze” — lava and haze — produces an acidic steam that can be deadly.
Meanwhile, some 2,500 residents who formerly lived along the eastern slopes of the mountain have been evacuated, and it remains unclear when they will be allowed to return. At least 75 homes have been destroyed, and the molten lava has destroyed telephone and power lines.
Perhaps surprisingly, as of this writing there have been no fatalities as a result of Kilauea’s most recent eruption, according to Fox News. Injuries have also been limited: one man lost a leg when a “lava bomb” — a flying chunk of lava ejected from the volcano — hit his leg.