Quakes, eruptions prompt closure of Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed late May 4, 2018 because of increasing concerns for the public’s safety.

It is not safe to be at the park on Hawaii Island, which is at the center of increasing seismic and volcanic activity, park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said in a news release.

The decision to close the park, on the southern tip of Hawaii Island, was made soon after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake at 3:32 p.m. on that day. The quake triggered rock slides along Chain of Craters Road and on park trails. A magnitude 5.4 quake an hour earlier caused part of a cliff to collapse into the ocean.

Throughout the day, fissures appeared in the ground at a public overlook near the park’s Jaggar Museum. Rocks that fell into the lava lake within Halemaumau Crater sent dark plumes of ash spewing skyward.

About 2,600 visitors were evacuated from the park. Guests at Volcano House, the only hotel within the national park, and at Kilauea Military Camp were relocated.

The park’s landscape began changing a few days earlier when the crater within the volcano’s Puu Oo vent collapsed, sending magma flowing toward nearby neighborhoods. Increasing activity a few days later forced the evacuation of Leilani Estates.

No injuries have been reported. It is not known when the park will reopen. The Hawaii Tourism Authority said business continues as usual in most other areas.

“No flights into airports anywhere in Hawaii are being impacted by Kilauea volcano, and the area where the lava is coming to the surface is very far from resort areas,” George Szigeti, the authority’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

 

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