Hawaii Volcano Disaster: Flaming 10-ton Boulders Will be Hurled from the Bowels of the Earth, Scientists Say

This photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows an ash column rising from the overlook at Halema'uma'u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii at 8:29 a.m. HST Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory interprets the short-lived explosion was triggered by a rockfall from the steep walls of the crater. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)
This photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows an ash column rising from the overlook at Halema’uma’u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii at 8:29 a.m. HST Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory interprets the short-lived explosion was triggered by a rockfall from the steep walls of the crater. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

If you think being trapped on an island with a volcano spewing lava, ash, and fire non-stop for days is bad, you’re not going to like what comes next. 

Scientists say the ongoing volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island will lead to a massive explosion from the volcano’s summit — one that could result in massive 10-ton flaming boulders being hurled into the sky.

According to the Washington Post: “Kilauea, the longest-erupting volcano on the planet, has displaced some 1,700 people and destroyed 36 structures since a shifting flow of underground magma last week burst through the surface in a residential neighborhood about 40 miles from the top of the volcano, unleashing torrents of molten rock and toxic gases.”

The report continues:

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Wednesday that the movement of magma from the summit out toward the Leilani Estates neighborhood, where 14 fissures have opened in the past week, has caused the lava lake at the top of the volcano to drop in elevation.

When that lava lake meets the groundwater level — which they think is most likely to happen sometime in the next few weeks — it could lead to a series of powerful steam explosions that could shower the surrounding area in 10-ton molten rocks and spew ash as far as 20 miles downwind, the scientists said during a conference call with reporters.

Donald Swanson, a USGS volcanologist said, “If an explosion happens, there’s a risk at all scales. If you’re near the crater, within half a mile, you could be subject to ballistic blocks weighing as much as 10 or 12 tons.” Those within a 20-mile radius would be showered by smaller rocks. And those past 20 miles would would witness fine volcanic ash falling like snow.

–Joshua James