A volcanic eruption in Hawaii has destroyed more than 36 structures and forced thousands of people to evacuate.
But things could get worse, according to the United States Geological Survey. There’s potential for Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano to propel gigantic boulders into the sky, spew noxious gases like sulfur dioxide, and cause acid rain to fall over Hawaii’s Big Island if its eruption intensifies.
USGS geologists are closely monitoring the volcano. Forceful eruptions occur when magma (or underground lava) sinks to the water table. When the water and magma mix, it creates steam, which builds pressure below the Earth. All that pressure can blow, flinging massive boulders, ash, and lava into the air.
While eruptions are difficult to predict, the lava lake on top of Kilauea’s main summit is quickly sinking — a clear warning sign that a big eruption may be coming, according to the USGS.
Kilauea has been continuously erupting for years, but the action got significantly more disastrous in recent weeks. New fissures and flowing lava have caused severe damage in residential communities located near the crater. The lava first flowed into residential neighborhoods last week, but geologists have been sounding the alarm that the eruption may get worse.
Here’s what the area looks like.
SEE ALSO: A volcano eruption in Hawaii has caused lava to pour into a residential neighborhood — here’s what it looks like on the ground
Geologists have been closely monitoring the crater on Kilauea’s summit in the hope of predicting when more intense outbursts will occur.
When the level of the lava in the crater plummets, as geologists are seeing on Kilauea, that can be a sign that explosions of ash and steam could follow.
The level of the lava lake in Kilauea’s summit crater has fallen over 220 meters in recent days, indicating an explosion is likely.
Residential neighborhoods near Kilauea’s crater have been hit particularly hard.
The volcanic activity causes rifts, or fissures, to open in the ground around the crater, causing lava to spew out into residential neighborhoods.
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Source:: Business Insider