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Kilauea

Discussion in 'The Earth and Our World' started by Mendalla, May 15, 2018.

  1. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    I have been following events in Hawaii quite a bit over the last week or two. No one I know is in the danger zone, just my natural interest in volcanoes coming out. Kilauea is rather different beast from, say, Mount St. Helens or Mount Pinataubo (to name two other famous eruptions from my lifetime). It essentially erupts in slow motion, with languid lava flows and beautiful spouts of lava rather than blowing up like a thousand atomic bombs as volcanoes on the rim of the Pacific plate are prone to do. It has been erupting continuously since 1983 (ie. since I was in Grade 12) but it has recently shifted. Lava has sunk back from the main crater, but new fissures are opening up east of the crater, near a pair of residential subdivisions. There are about 20 of these cracks now, of which one (17) has spread lava about a mile and is still going. Mercifully, 17's flow didn't endanger any structures and only twentysomething structures have been damaged so far.

    A nice video update from today:



    The thing with Kilauea is that it really highlights our ambiguous relationship with volcanoes. While it does do damage and can kill, it is also crucial to the existence of Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands would not exist without their volcanoes. Basically, there a "hotspot" in the Earth's crust. As the Pacific plate moves, eruptions from the hot spot build up until they break the surface of the water. Each island in the chain, therefore, represents a past position of that hot spot. Right now, it's under the Big Island and is the reason Kilauea exists.

    And that ambiguous, double-edged relationship can be extended to the world as a whole. Scientists are now fairly sure that volcanoes released a lot of gas and water from the crust of the early Earth, helping build our atmosphere and oceans. Without those, there could and would be no life on Earth, so we literally owe our existence to volcanism. It destroys but it is also a part of what makes our world habitable. It's no coincidence that the two worlds we now think most likely to harbour life in our solar system, Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, are both active worlds with geysers spouting kilometres into space from subsurface oceans warmed by geothermal activity.

    And a lot of our relationship with nature is like that. That which creates and builds up can also destroy. Including us. The big difference being that we can think about that dichotomy and make decisions about when it is "a time to tear down and a time to build" (Ecc. 3:3) while volcanoes are the product of natural processes that simply happen. Both the destruction and the construction that result are simply effects, not the purpose.
     
    Jae, Inannawhimsey, revsdd and 3 others like this.
  2. Carolla

    Carolla wondering & wandering

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    It has been quite fascinating to see the photos for sure and ponder the power of the living earth. In Iceland we walked over an area formed by volcanic activity and the formations of lava were fascinating.

    I was disturbed the other day to see videos posted by a guy who had snuck into a restricted zone & was filming 'lava bombs' shooting out into the air & landing near him in fields - seemed foolhardy.
     
    Inannawhimsey likes this.
  3. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    When we toured Costa Rica and Nicaragua a few years ago, we visited an active volcano in the latter country. It was steaming and reeked of sulphur, but that was about it. Apparently lava is occasionally visible deep down in the crater but not that day. However, to get to the crater, our tour van had to drive through the lava field from its last major eruption and that was more awe-inspiring than the crater itself in some ways. What was even more inspiring, though, was the amount of plant life growing out of the lava, which came from an eruption in, IIRC, the seventies. Inspired a sermon I did called "Life comes back" about the resilience of life and how it always seems to find a way to carry on no matter how messed up things get.

    I agree. OTOH, the footage those lava chasers are posting on Youtube is too good to pass up, even if viewing it probably just encourages them.
     
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  4. Carolla

    Carolla wondering & wandering

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    We did not see any active volcanos while in Iceland - but there are many, and lots of small earthquakes on a daily basis. They have some interesting websites recording all that stuff.

    But back to Hawaii - still lots of area evacuated I imagine. Do reports indicate anything is slowing down, or is it seeming to be continuing to grow in force?
     
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  5. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    They have evacuated parts of the communities affected but that's about it. They were talking about it slowing down on the weekend but now there's been like 4 new fissures in the last couple days so I'm not so sure. The big worry now is a steam explosion in the crater but even that wouldn't do much damage since the crater lies inside a national park. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory and some structures in the park would be the only things in danger. As far as human risk, because the lava from this type of volcano move so slowly (you can literally walk away from it), the biggest danger is the fumes. Sulphur dioxide and water can mix to create sulphuric acid which can irritate eyes, skin, and respiratory passages. Anyone with respiratory issues should probably stay away, IOW.

    This Fox article (yeah, I know, but they are capable of decent reporting from time to time) summarizes the risks pretty well:

    Hawaii volcano: What's the worst-case scenario for Kilauea?

    Bottom line is that only a couple communities are at risk and they have largely been evacuated or are on standby to evacuate. Otherwise, it's pretty much a show for the geologists to watch and learn from.
     
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  6. chansen

    chansen Pleasant Enough

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    Inannawhimsey likes this.
  7. Lastpointe

    Lastpointe Well-Known Member

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    We went up an active volcano in the Canary Islands. Has a great observatory on top which combines two cool things!

    Special event to watch the sunset from the top and then take the cable car back down and watch the stars

    It was still active but not in a big way, as you went by a fissure you could feel the hot steam though

    What was so cool was walking on the old lava. It sounded like we were walking on broken dishes
     
  8. Seeler

    Seeler Well-Known Member

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    Mendalla - your opening post is rich and beautiful.
     
  9. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Thanks, Seeler. I'm not preaching these days and have never really started a blog so this is my outlet for creative expression of my thoughts. Glad to hear it's appreciated.
     
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  10. KayTheCurler

    KayTheCurler Well-Known Member

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    I learned more about volcanos and Kilauea from this thread I thought possible. Tank you.

    My connection to Hawaii and Kilauea is that I have a FB friend who has a son and family there. They have evacuated from the Leilani estate and await further news about safety.
     
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  11. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Glad to hear your friend's family are safe. It's got to be a tense time in that area, esp. for the ones in parts that haven't been evacuated. All it takes is another fissure opening to send more people scrambling for safety.
     
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  12. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Update on conditions from the US Geological Survey.



    In general, no big changes, and slight improvement if anything.
     
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  13. Inannawhimsey

    Inannawhimsey M&M, Cascadian Lovers

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  14. Mrs.Anteater

    Mrs.Anteater no anteater, but German wild boar

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    I don’t understand why the lava doesn’t cause forest fires?
     
  15. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Speculation:

    May not be dry enough so fires it starts aren't spreading? And the spatter, which is what would likely trigger a wildfire, doesn't seem to be travelling far, just coming right back down around the fissures. And, really, trees it contacts are going to get knocked down and swallowed up as they burn. If it was spraying hot lava into dry woodlands, maybe that would be a risk.

    Not 100% sure, though. It isn't a risk I have heard discussed. Biggest concerns seem to lava for structures and gases for people.
     
  16. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    Carolla likes this.
  17. Waterfall

    Waterfall Well-Known Member

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    How do they know whether a volcano will have a pyroclastic blast or flow when it blows?
     
  18. Mendalla

    Mendalla A Node in the Interdependent Web

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    As I understand it, a lot is the consistency and chemistry of the magma. The magma coming from the Hawaiian volcanoes is thinner and less viscous than what you find in, for instance, St. Helens. And that apparently relates to it being a mid-plate hot spot rather than sitting on the rim of the plate as the West Coast volcanoes do. The thicker lava in the rim volcanoes means you get less lava flow but more pressure buildup and explosive eruptions like the one we saw in 1980 when St. Helens literally blew its top.

    Cascades volcanoes could blow, but not like Hawaii’s
     
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  19. Carolla

    Carolla wondering & wandering

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  20. Inannawhimsey

    Inannawhimsey M&M, Cascadian Lovers

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    Speculation:

    Perhaps the Hawaiian islands havent had our horrific forestry management practices that have resulted in more severe and frequent fires here because we tried for decades to try to prevent all forest fires thereby building up fuel for future fires?
     

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