Hilo, HI -
A day after a 15th volcanic fissure opened up in the Leilani Estates area on the big island, a pause in significant activity today. However, geologists say there is no indication the eruption will be calming down any time soon. In fact, officials are warning that more explosive eruptions, possibly larger than the one seen yesterday, may be on the way.
If it follows the 1924 example, there's a possibility that steam blast explosions may occur within a few days... The rocks have accumulated down at the bottom... sealing the conduit off. The magma below was still exsolving gas and eventually the pressure built up enough to blast the rocks out. - Jim Kauahikaua, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
A new explosion could send ash, steam, sulfur dioxide, and boulders spewing from the summit crater in all directions.
The possible outcomes depending on the size of the ejecta the larger pieces probably won't go as far as the smaller pieces.
Geologists say that as the lava lake continues to drop in the Halemaumau crater, it may fall below the water table. If that happens, water seeping into the lava vent could produce steam, generating pressure and sending rocks and ash flying. Hawaii hasn't seen explosive activity like that in nearly a century. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closing down due to the threat of explosions.
While activity was limited today, a new area of steam was seen venting through some smaller cracks in the ground, prompting officials to issue new evacuations. Ten residents on Ala'ili road evacuated earlier this morning. The fear is that those residents would have no way to get out if another fissure opens up.
With fumes possibly pouring out of the new cracks soon, officials say it was best to get residents out as a precaution. The new evacuations discouraging for those nearby.
It's just a really traumatic situation. Lot of uncertainty, really unfolding minute by minute. We don't know what to expect. - Leilani Estates resident
The whole scenarios have changed hour to hour sometimes -- but I can say that civil defense is actively working to strategize what to do next. - Janet Snyder, Hawaii County spokesperson
It has now been a week since the eruption began, the emotional toll wearing residents down.
I really feel bad about the other homes though. It's very sad, people are leaving the island. But there's a lot of amazing people helping out people right now. I couldn't believe it. I asked for help for someone else and everyone's on board. - Leilani Estates resident
So far the eruption of Kilauea has destroyed dozens of structures, at least 27 of those homes, and no way to tell how long the volcano will remain active.