“We have heard from people around the world concerned about Hawai‘i’s welfare and want to reassure everyone that this is limited to a remote region on the slopes of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i,” Hawai‘i Governor David Ige said in a statement. “Everywhere else in the Hawai‘ian Islands is not affected.”
But as the volcano continues to erupt, scientists and officials expect more tremors and more ruptures to form.
Holiday rental manger Jessica Gauthier said she and other local real estate agents had seen vacation renters cancel their reservations, though the volcanic activity is far from tourist centres.
“There’s no way to know that if you’re sitting in your living room in Ohio and watching the national news,” she said.
Gauthier predicted tourism would pick back up as a new kind of visitor began to appear.
“Within a month we’ll start getting lava tourists,” she said.
The Love Big Island is a travel guide website already promoting lava tours “While devastating for the residents, the impact of this eruption is limited to a remote region on the east side of the Big Island, far away from the other Hawai‘ian Islands.
“Except for deteriorated air quality conditions on parts of the island on locations that depend on current eruption status and weather conditions we expect this to have little impact on your stay on the Hawai‘ian islands.
“If the lava flows are on land that is accessible to the public you can join a guided lava tour to get very close to the lava or join a boat tour to see the lava stream into the ocean.”
Kilauea is the Big Island’s youngest and feistiest volcano, having experienced more than 30 eruptions since 1952, and has been continuously erupting at low levels since 1983.
For a long time, scientists thought the Kilauea volcano was just a small satellite of its much larger neighbour, Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world.
But more recent findings revealed that Kilauea has its own magma plumbing system extending nearly 60km below the earth’s surface.
In the past two decades, the island’s population has increased and there’s been more development in areas vulnerable to lava flows.
Much of the town of Kalapana was lost to Kilauea’s lava in the early 1990s.
Unlike many of the steep-sided volcanoes along the edge of the Pacific Rim, Kilauea is a shield volcano with long, gradually sloping sides.
This has allowed people to build homes and businesses along its flanks.
But as geologist Brian Olson pointed out on Twitter, the decision to allow so much construction so near it now “seems at best ignorant and at worst negligent.”
- PNC sources