Friday, December 16, 2011

Scientist predicts explosive eruptions for Kilauea, Hawaii - 16th Dec 2011

Scientists studying Kilauea believe the Big Island volcano is surging toward a violent future. Volcanologist Don Swanson collected samples of ash and rock dating back 2,500 years. They show a pattern.

"Kilauea has had long periods of explosive activity in the past, much longer than we had previously realized," he said. "Some of those explosions during those periods can be very deadly."

Even more deadly than the explosion at Mount St. Helens in 1980 that killed 57 and destroyed 150 square miles of forest.

An explosive eruption at Kilauea in 1924 killed one person. But in 1790, another killed 200.

"We know that it's the most lethal volcano in the U.S.," University of Hawaii Geology professor Michael Garcia said.

U.H. researchers studied Kilauea samples from the edges of Halemaumau crater. Carbon dating yielded a startling discovery - Kilauea has gone through long violent phases that lasted decades or centuries.

"The total interval in which Kilauea is dominantly exploding rather than producing lava flows is much greater, 60 percent of its history over the last 2,500 years," Garcia said.

Swanson predicts another violent phase is coming when Kilauea will explode and send out surges. Read More