The Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii is now resulting in 4.4 magnitude earthquakes, which have caused ground shaking, building damage and cracking roads. One of the craters has reportedly begun to shoot out "ballistic blocks" of up to 24 inches. Explosions are predicted to become even more powerful. Blocks have even appeared in a parking lot hundreds of yards from the Kilauea Halemaumau crater.
One of the consequences of the 4.4 magnitude earthquakes, which have caused one the volcanos largest craters to drop 3 feet, is that nearby faults have begun shifting.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has reported "frequent ground shaking and damage to roads and buildings." Cracks have also appeared on Highway 11. The earthquakes, which are relatively shallow, are expected to cause further damage in the region.
"These reflect the most energetic explosions yet observed and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity," USGS said. "Additional such explosions are expected and could be more powerful."
The volcano has also become a risk to aircraft due to increased emissions and heights of ash clouds.
On Saturday, lava streams, which began erupting from the volcano, hit an unnamed man who was sitting on the balcony of his property in Pahoa. According to authorities, chunks of molten rock, which can weigh as much as a refrigerator, can be deadly.
“A homeowner who was sitting on a third-floor balcony got hit with lava spatter,” said Janet Snyder, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii. “It hit him on the shin and shattered everything there down on his leg.”
Magma also devastated four homes as molten rock from two fissures combined into a single steam. Authorities are currently trying to clear hardened lava from a road blocked by a 2014 eruption, in order to give coastal residents and alternative escape route. The Hawaiian National Guard has issued a warning that evacuations could be imminent if more roads are shut down.
Edwin Montoya, who lives on his daughter’s farm near the eruption site, said the fissure grew quickly, “It was just a little crack in the ground, with a little lava coming out. Now it's a big crater that opened up where the small little crack in the ground was.”
Geologists only expect the situation to worsen and anticipate that fresh magma will emerge in the Puna district, 25 miles away from the summit of the volcano. Bright orange lava blasted 20 feet into the air on Saturday, flowing in streams of molten rock.
“Summit magma has arrived,” US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall said. “There is much more stuff coming out of the ground and it’s going to produce flows that will move much further away.”
Experts cannot predict when the volcano will settle. “We have no way of knowing whether this is really the beginning or towards the end of this eruption,” said Tom Shea, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii. “We're kind of in this world of uncertainty.”