12 May, 2018
Scientists say the explosive eruption could occur even as the volcano continues to splatter and ooze lava out of its eastern flank into a residential area. Such explosions can release tall clouds of ash and toxic gas and throw rocks - so called "ballistic blocks" - as far as eight football field lengths.
The lava line has been crawling closer to a geothermal power plant and employees of the now- closed plant have been working to remove risky flammable solvents from the plant in order to avoid any potential catastrophes.
The plant, which is owned by Ormat Technologies of Reno, Nevada, is across a highway from where lava has been erupting.
On Thursday, WISH-TV's sister station KRON spoke with an expert at the United States Geological Survey.
The national park around Hawaii's Kilauea was off-limits to visitors Friday for fear the volcano will blow its top in the coming days and hurl ash and boulders the size of refrigerators miles into the air.
Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe says the pentane was moved to an industrial park some 30 miles (48 kilometers) away from the Puna Geothermal Venture.
As a hole formed in the bottom of the crater and drained the lava lake about 652 feet lower, super-heated lava touched some water that instantly expanded into steam.
Meantime, if rock and other sediment have fallen inward, blocking the steam that's being created, intense pressure builds up.
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The concern is that it'll go beneath the underground water desk - one other 1,000 toes additional down - and that will set off a sequence of occasions that might result in a "very violent" steam explosion, Mandeville mentioned.
Officials don't expect a possible explosion to be deadly as long as people stay out of the closed park.
"We suspect it's a rapid process".
"We can't really peer through the ground and see it exactly in all its details and intricacies", NOAA volcanologist Bill Chadwick told NPR. No one lives in the area surrounding the summit crater, but preparations are still being made for an explosive event.
"It seems pretty safe to me right now but they'd know best", said Cindy Woodd, who was visiting from British Columbia, Canada. "We all know it's a distinct risk". "Life and safety is what's most important".
In little more than a week, the top of the lava lake has gone from spilling over the crater to nearly 970 feet (295 meters) below the surface as of Thursday morning, Mandeville said.
It was enough to leave the residents of Leilani Estates, Hawaii fleeing the area through cracked and burning streets with no idea as to when they could return home. A resident saw the man leaving his house when he returned to retrieve personal belongings.
The resident and his friend took the suspected intruder to the police checkpoint at the Highway 130 and Leilani Avenue intersection, where police arrested the man without incident. And with new fissures are opening closer to the edge of the plant, residents are getting even more anxious.