Hawaii could face volcanic smog, acid rain

May 10, 2018, 11:10
Hawaii could face volcanic smog, acid rain

Geologists say the Big Island's Kilauea volcano could erupt explosively and send boulders, rocks and ash into the air around its summit caldera in coming weeks.

As seen from the Jaggar Museum overlook at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, an ash column rises from the Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea volcano shortly before 8:30 a.m. today.

PAHOA, Hawaii Kilauea volcano's assault on the Big Isle continued on several fronts today, the sixth day of the Leilani Estates eruption.

The USGS said that even more violent eruptions could occur, shooting "ballistic rocks" weighing up to several tons about a mile away. In areas 10 to 20 miles away downwind, fine ash could float from the sky like snow, USGS scientist Donald Swanson said.

The declaration allows federal funds to begin to flow to state and local efforts in Hawaii. The scientists have warned that more earthquakes and lava eruptions are likely to happen within next few months.

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Explosive eruptions might kick off if the lava lake in Kilauea's crater falls to the extent of groundwater, inflicting an inflow of water to create steam-driven explosions, the USGS stated.

The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities.

While there are sometimes some rather dramatic ideas of acid rain burning like battery acid, the slightly acidic water that falls from these clouds feels like any other rain shower, and is not immediately risky. Dr. Elizabeth Tam, a respiratory health specialist, said these levels are extremely high and potentially fatal.

"There were a number of people at their residences", Talmadge Magno, the administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defense, said at a news conference.

But it adds: "There's been no clear evidence that vog causes lingering damage to normally healthy individuals".

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There is a forecast of more eruptions from the volcano in the near future.

At this time, due to the prevailing winds, most of the sulphur dioxide emissions from the fissures, and resulting sulphuric acid particles, are being blown out to sea, to the southwest of the Big Island.

"Wherever you have a vog plume, you're going to have acid rain, if it's raining", University of Hawaii meteorologist Steven Businger told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now. Additionally, there are short and long-term effects the rain can have.

"When atmospheric moisture is abundant, these droplets combine with it and fall as acid rain, damaging plants and accelerating the rusting of metal objects such as cars, industrial and farm equipment, and building components", it says. There's still a fair amount of magma underneath the neighbourhood, Ms Neal said. "The plants are affected by it pretty substantially in that it is an acid falling onto the plants".

Publicity to very excessive ranges of the fuel, which causes acid rain, could be life-threatening, based on the Company for Poisonous Substances and Illness Registry. When water vapor turns into rain and passes through that sulfuric acid in the air, the product is acid rain.

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