Lava from Hawaii volcano picking up speed, say officials

A lava flow from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has picked up speed and is moving northeast at between 15 and 20 miles per hour.

USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
By Sunday, Oct. 26, one lobe of the lava flow was still moving through an open field near Pahoa (shown here) but a faster-moving tip has already advanced through the Pahoa cemetery.

An oozing lava flow from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano picked up speed over the weekend, prompting local authorities and residents to prepare for possible evacuations on the Big Island.

The molten rock has been sporadically creeping downslope toward the small village of Pahoa. As of last night (Oct. 26), a portion of the lava stream had engulfed the Pahoa cemetery, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The volcanic flow has been moving northeast at a rate of 15 to 20 yards (13.7 to 18.2 meters) an hour, according to an update from Hawaii's Civil Defense Agency. Though residents of Pahoa have not yet been ordered to flee, emergency responders were going door to door yesterday in the immediate area to inform residents about the flow conditions and possible evacuation plans. The Red Cross also opened an emergency shelter in the nearby town of KeaauHawaiiNewsNow reported. [See Photos of the Lave Flowing from Kilauea

As of last night, at 9:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. today EDT), the lava was just 600 yards (550 m) from Pahoa Village Road, and a portion of the street has been closed. The Civil Defense Agency warned that smoke conditions may worsen in some areas downwind of the lava flow as it burns through grass and vegetation. Scientists are also concerned about methane explosions that have been observed in the lava flow,NBC News reported. Pockets of trapped gas from decomposing plants trigger the blasts.

The so-called June 27th flow, named for the day it first spewed from a vent in Kilauea's Pu'u O'o crater, has inflated to chest-high depths in some areas as fresh lava accumulates under the flow's hard crust. The glowing orange to orange-yellow edges of the lava flow can reach temperatures higher than 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit (900 degrees Celsius), according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Pu'u O'o crater is part of Kilauea's East Rift Zone, where vents and cracks have been spilling lava nonstop since 1983. Kilauea's continuous, 30-year eruption has wrecked dozens of nearby buildings in the surrounding area of Hawaii's Puna region, including the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitor center at Wahaula, the Royal Gardens subdivision and many homes and buildings in the town of Kalapana.

Scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory planned to continue monitoring the flow from the ground and had scheduled a flight over the area as well.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.