Officials are saying that a massive eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is imminent and are expecting lava boulders to be shot more than 12 miles into the sky and when it begins, it will basically be hell on earth. The Volcano has already been erupting for more than 10 days and 20 fissures have opened up on the ground spewing lava into the streets. Smoke plumes reached more than 12,000 feet into the air yesterday causing officials to declare a red alert. Check it out.
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Kīlauea (/ˌkiːlaʊˈeɪə/, US: /ˌkɪləˈweɪə/; Hawaiian: [tiːlɐwˈwɛjə]) is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi. Located along the southern shore of the island, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago.
It is the second youngest product of the Hawaiian hotspot and the current eruptive center of the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain. Because it lacks topographic prominence and its activities historically coincided with those of Mauna Loa, Kīlauea was once thought to be a satellite of its much larger neighbor.
Structurally, Kīlauea has a large, fairly recently formed caldera at its summit and two active rift zones, one extending 125 km (78 mi) east and the other 35 km (22 mi) west, as an active fault of unknown depth moving vertically an average of 2 to 20 mm (0.1 to 0.8 in) per year.
Kīlauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983 and has caused considerable property damage, including the destruction of the town of Kalapana in 1990. On May 3, 2018, several lava vents opened in the lower Puna area, downrift from the summit. The new volcanic episode was accompanied by a strong earthquake of Mw 6.9, and nearly 2,000 residents were evacuated from Leilani Estates and the adjacent Lanipuna Gardens development.
By May 9, 2018 the eruption had destroyed 27 houses in the Leilani Estates subdivision. Kīlauea’s eruptive history has been a long and active one; its name means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava.
The earliest lavas from the volcano date back to its submarine preshield stage, samples having been recovered by remotely operated underwater vehicles from its submerged slopes; samples of other flows have been recovered as core samples. Lavas younger than 1,000 years cover 90 percent of the volcano’s surface. The oldest exposed lavas date back 2,800 years.
The first well-documented eruption of Kīlauea occurred in 1823 (Western contact and written history began in 1778). Since then, the volcano has erupted repeatedly. Most historical eruptions have occurred at the volcano’s summit or its eastern rift zone, and are prolonged and effusive in character.
The geological record shows, however, that violent explosive activity predating European contact was extremely common; in 1790 one such eruption killed more than 400 people, making it the deadliest volcano eruption in what is now the United States. Should explosive activity start anew, the volcano would become much more of a danger to humans.
Kīlauea’s current eruption dates back to January 3, 1983, and is by far its longest-duration historical period of activity, as well as one of the longest-duration eruptions in the world; as of January 2011, the eruption has produced 3.5 km3 (1 cu mi) of lava and resurfaced 123.2 km2 (48 sq mi) of land.
Kīlauea’s high state of activity has a major impact on its mountainside ecology, where plant growth is often interrupted by fresh tephra and drifting volcanic sulfur dioxide, producing acid rains particularly in a barren area south of its southwestern rift zone known as the Kaʻū Desert.
Nonetheless, wildlife flourishes where left undisturbed elsewhere on the volcano and is highly endemic thanks to Kīlauea’s (and the island of Hawaiʻi’s) isolation from the nearest landmass. Historically, the five volcanoes on the island were considered sacred by the Hawaiian people, and in Hawaiian mythology Kīlauea’s Halemaʻumaʻu Crater served as the body and home of Pele, goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes.
William Ellis, a missionary from England, gave the first modern account of Kīlauea and spent two weeks traveling along the volcano; since its foundation by Thomas Jaggar in 1912, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, located on the rim of Kīlauea caldera, has served as the principal investigative and scientific body on the volcano and the island in general.
In 1916, a bill forming the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson; since then, the park has become a World Heritage Site and a major tourist destination, attracting roughly 2.6 million people annually.
Like all Hawaiian volcanoes, Kīlauea was created as the Pacific tectonic plate moved over the Hawaiian hotspot in the Earth’s underlying mantle. The Hawaii island volcanoes are the most recent evidence of this process that, over 70 million years, has created the 6,000 km (3,700 mi)-long Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain.
The prevailing, though not completely settled, view is that the hotspot has been largely stationary within the planet’s mantle for much, if not all of the Cenozoic Era. However, while the Hawaiian mantle plume is well understood and extensively studied, the nature of hotspots themselves remains fairly enigmatic.
Kīlauea is one of five subaerial volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaiʻi, created by the Hawaii hotspot. The oldest volcano on the island, Kohala, is more than a million years old, and Kīlauea, the youngest, is believed to be between 300,000 and 600,000 years of age; Lōʻihi Seamount on the island’s flank is even younger, but has yet to breach the surface.
Thus Kilauea is the second youngest volcano in the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, a chain of shield volcanoes and seamounts extending from Hawaii to the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench in Russia. Following the pattern of Hawaiian volcano formation, Kīlauea started as a submarine volcano, gradually building itself up through underwater eruptions.
alkali basalt lava before emerging from the sea with a series of explosive eruptions about 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Since then, the volcano’s activity has likely been as it is now, a continual stream of effusive and explosive eruptions of roughly the same pattern as its activity in the last 200 or 300 years.
At most 600,000 years old, Kīlauea is still quite young for a Hawaiian volcano; the oldest volcano on the island, the northwestern Kohala, experienced almost 900,000 years of activity before going extinct. The volcano’s foreseeable future activity will likely be much like it has been for the past 50,000 to 100,000 years; Hawaiian and explosive activity will continue to heighten Kīlauea’s summit, build up its rift zones, and fill and refill its summit caldera.