Hawaii officials encourage tourism despite volcano

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But most of the rest of the island is free of volcanic hazards, and local tourism officials are hoping travelers will recognize the Big Island is ready to welcome them.

Rachel Smigelski-Theiss is among those who have changed their plans.

Park visitors watch as an ash plume rises from the Halemaumau crater within the Kilauea volcano summit caldera at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on May 9, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Now they've cancelled their trip. She's anxious potential flight disruptions would strand them on the island.

"Everyone comes here", she said.

Residents of Kona on the west of the island have complained of volcanic smog, or vog, from the large amounts of sulphur dioxide and other pollutants spewing from Kilauea.


In April, floods on Kauai Island made travelers nervous.

Leilani Estates, an area with 700 homes and 1,800 residents, was under mandatory evacuation earlier this week during the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, Inman reported.

A quake last Friday was measured at magnitude 6.9, the most powerful to hit the islands since 1975.

Since the quake, there have been frequent aftershocks.

It also shows deep volcanic fissures, vents through which lava erupts, along the ground. They evacuated their home on May 3, and only found out it was destroyed when a relative went back to get her personal belongings.


Scientists say the greatest danger with the blast that could shoot large boulders into the air, is that it may come with little to no warning.

Meghan Holowath, a third-year geology student going on the trip, said most people have the idea of a Mount St. Helens-type explosion in their mind, but because of the magma type of Kilauea, that sort of explosive event is unlikely.

"What we've already been seeing is that chunks of the surrounding vents are just dropping off into the lava and that's why we're getting these small explosions", said Jessica Johnson, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

"This volcano is very unique and we're lucky that it's not as unsafe as other volcanoes and we're able to go and see it without having it pose a threat to our safety", said Holowath. But on Thursday night, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed to the public and will remain closed indefinitely. Coney is anticipating more depending on what happens.

Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures - including 26 homes - since it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles east of the summit crater. Scientists said the molten rock there could start moving faster if fresher, hotter magma emerges from the ground.


This event could occur again when the summit lava lake drops so low that groundwater can flow into the conduit that feeds magma to the crater. "In general, PDCs move too quickly for people to escape, and death is nearly certain for those caught by a PDC", Brown and her colleagues explain.

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