I Lava Hawaii!

Do your summer travel plans take you to Hawaii this year? Many tourist travel to the Big Isle to see Kilauea erupting on the Big Island of Hawaii. Usually the Volcano National Park is a huge draw to tourist and locals alike and affords a safe venue for viewing and exploring the volcano. Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and till just recently the opportunity to view an active volcano was a unique opportunity in the park. However on May 3rd,  2018 Madame Pele the Hawaiian goddess of fire showed the world her fury when Kilauea erupted violently launching molten lava 100 ft. into the air.  A plume of volcanic ash has been launched 30,000 feet into the air, making this eruption visible from outer space!

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After a second explosive eruption at Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, active fissures in surrounding neighborhoods have been spewing lava into the air. Lava, ash, and fumes are reported to be continuing to fill the areas surrounding Kilauea.  As many as 22 fissures have opened up in the latest volcanic activity, causing scientists to fear further eruptions. Steve Brantley, of the USGS, said the large cracks, which have torn roads apart in some places or created gaps of 1 yard or wider, are an indication that magma is continuing to enter the rift zone.  "The rift zone is being forced apart," he said. "I think clearly it points to the potential for additional eruptive activity" in lower Puna.   The developments underscore the scope of the disaster in the area, which has upended lives, destroyed homes and shows no signs of stopping.

All of these fissures are still active and spitting lava, as the eruptions continue to push toxic gases up to the surface.  In a statement, the Civil Defense said:

Due to the continued volcanic activity the following policies are in effect:

·       Do continue to be on the alert for volcanic fumes of SO2.

·       Volcanic gas such as SO2, is especially dangerous for elderly, children/babies and people with respiratory problems.

·       People in areas downwind of rifts may intermittently experience higher levels of fumes. People with breathing problems should avoid being outdoors and leave the area if deemed necessary.

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Air quality levels continue to be a problem in Puna, after a second large eruption sent a giant ash cloud spiraling more than 6 miles into the air.  Toxic gases have escaped the Kilauea summit, spreading on strong trade winds throughout the northeast of Big Island.   State Sen. Josh Green, an ER doctor whose district includes Kona and Ka'u, said those with respiratory problems should limit their exposure to ash. Extended exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide, meanwhile, could increase the risk of bronchitis or upper respiratory infections.

Steam-driven blasts in Kilauea's crater could send a 20,000-foot ash plumes out of the crater while hurling 10-12 ton boulders up to half a mile.

An explosive eruption could also scatter pebble-sized rocks over 12 miles, the USGS has said.

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This type of eruption has the potential to carpet the Big Island in much thicker ash than current dustings and possibly spread the powder and volcanic smog across the Hawaiian islands and farther afield if it enters the stratosphere.

"This morning dense ballistic blocks up to 60 cm (2 feet) across were found in the parking lot a few hundred yards (meters) from Halemaumau (Kilauea's crater)," the USGS said in a statement.

"These reflect the most energetic explosions yet observed and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity.

 

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Experts have warned the eruption could be the start of the biggest explosion on the island since 1924 because many of the precursors are similar.

Matt Gutman, the Senior National Correspondent of ABC News reported that ash from the volcano was “mixing with rain clouds producing acid rain”.

He said: “Roads were impassible and cracked open from thermal vents.

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“The plants haven’t been burnt, it is some of the fumes that have killed them over the past 10 days of continuous exposure to this hazardous gas.

“It is important to note that 2000 people have been ordered to flee their homes and 40 structures have been destroyed but no one has actually been hurt by this volcanic activity.

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What does this mean to anyone traveling to Hawaii? In actuality most of the neighbor islands are little affected by this huge eruption, except got the Vog, the term for the haze created by the volcanic ash being spread across the island chain.  If you’re planning a visit to any of the islands soon here  some tips for lessening the respiratory effects of volcanic ash.

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·  Vog reduces the bodies’ natural abilities to expel toxins.  Don't overload your system. 
Reduce your work toxic exposure including cleaning supplies, paint fumes, smoke.  Consult your doctor, or for more severe symptoms, a toxicologist or an industrial hygienist. Take extra precautions if you should wear a proper fitting mask or respirator on the job. Change filters often. Reduce the exposure to other pollution sources such as burning rubbish, cigarette smoke, and cane burning and avoid over exertion during periods of exposure to Vog. 

·  To prevent a cough or sore throat, use a Neti pot or saline nasal wash to keep breathing passages open and flushed of vog areosol particles that can irritate mucus lining. To prevent dry and itchy or red eyes, use saline eye drops and flush your eyes often.  If you wear contact lens, be sure and keep them clean and wet, or choose to use glasses for now. Take a break from staring at computer screens and rest your eyes more frequently. Splash water on your face. If you drive, wear sunglasses to protect from glare. 

·  As Vog seems to worsen during the day, it is best to do yard work or exercise earlier in the day. If practical, avoid high VOG areas during times of thick VOG.

·  Take time off from training for a marathon, roofing a house at noon,  hauling rocks with a bad heart, or playing too hard at recess if you are prone to asthma. Practice meditation and relaxing.  Dust off that club membership to work-out in an air conditioned gym, or take the kids to swim in the ocean where the air quality is better. 

·  Go find sanctuary in Air Conditioning. A stroll in the mall or cool cafe or grocery store can be a vog respite. Use your car AC.  Close the house windows, and run an air purifier or air conditioner. Place a wet towel or cheese cloth over a fan. Indoor plants (especially spider plants) have been touted to help clean the air. Don't forget to clean your air filters, including your computer fan, keep your work area cool and dust free. 

·  Consult your doctor about your state of health, and consult an industrial hygienist about respirators. VentMask Air filters can be applied in your hotel or rental unit.

·  Stop smoking, even if it’s just for a week. Have your doctor keep records of both your lung function and approximate VOG levels. Take the tests after breathing "clean" air one week or more), then get retested if/when breathing becomes more difficult during high VOG episodes.

 

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Kilauea has posed a large and potential disastrous situation for many residents of the Big Island, however your vacation travel plans will most likely not be interrupted very much from this fiery display. Go and enjoy the wonderful beaches and majestic mountain ranges of the islands just be sure to be ready if the Vog starts to trigger your allergy or asthma symptoms and take proper actions.