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The lava-spewing eruptions of the Kilauea volcano may be set for a reprise — scientists warn that the area could experience another dangerous eruption because a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater, according to the National Park Service. Although the water is not visible from public areas in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed a growing pond of water inside Halema’uma’u crater during a helicopter overflight about two weeks ago.
Why This Matters: When Kilauea erupted last year, it spewed lava that destroyed hundreds of homes on the Big Island (watch the video above for more). The volcano has erupted continuously for nearly 35 years — Kilauea alternates between explosive and slow, steady lava flow periods — but with the added presence of water, the next explosive period (like the one last summer) could result in a massive collapse of the crater floor. Janet Babb, a geologist with the Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told CNN, “Until we have a better understanding of where the water is coming from, it’s difficult to forecast what could happen next.” The USGS stated that “Kīlauea remains an active volcano, and it will erupt again. Although we expect clear signs prior to the next eruption, the time frame of warning may be short.” But for now, there are no signs of imminent danger according to The Park Service.
They will try to determine whether it is “a shallow accumulation of rainwater or the surface expression of a deeper-seated layer of groundwater. Some of the water could also be from condensed water vapor directly released by the magma. However, direct sampling is tricky given the hazardous location of the water.”
According to The Park Service, figuring out the source of the water will help the scientists to better understand the possible hazards associated with it.
“For instance, if the water is from the extensive zone of groundwater around the crater, it could be more likely to interact with rising magma and result in explosive activity.”
“According to the Geological Survey, explosive eruptions can occur when the magma column drops below the water table (the level below in which the ground is saturated with water), groundwater interacts with hot rocks, or steam pressure builds and then explodes,” CNN explained.
The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in a case brought by a group of Montana landowners who want to force ARCO (which is owned by oil giant BP) to comply with state law and reduce arsenic levels in the soil throughout their community to pre-contamination levels. The Justices — even the liberal ones — appeared to side with the Company.
Why This Matters: When the EPA cares more about protecting a polluting company and limiting its liability than protecting the innocent victims of that toxic pollution from harm, federal “pre-emption” of state law claims can actually frustrate the intent of the statute — which was to make the polluters pay for the clean up of their toxic contamination.
When we asked our partners at the St. Simons Land Trust about what they’ve been thankful for this year they told us that the opportunity to operate a land trust in one of coastal Georgia’s most diverse ecosystems is something to be thankful for in and of itself. Land trusts are a really important conservation […]
According to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, climate change may increase the frequency and intensity of certain natural disasters, which could damage Superfund sites—the nation’s most contaminated hazardous waste sites.
Why This Matters: Spilled Superfund sites can cause deadly outcomes for the people that have to live near them, not to mention the havoc they wreak on wildlife.