Friday, September 14, 2007

Hawaii: What if lava reached the road?

Hawaii County officials are planning for the possibility, as yet remote, that lava from Kilauea Volcano will cross Highway 130, cutting off access to a number of Puna communities.

"I'm trying not to freak out," said County Councilwoman Emily Naeole, whose Makuu Hawaiian Homes residence stands in a possible lava path.

Right now the flows, 12 miles from the highway, consist of chunky aa, which moves slowly, but the possibility remains that they could turn to more fluid and fast-moving pahoehoe.

"Kilauea Volcano has never had a long-lived continuous eruption from a single vent that produced only aa flows," says volcano scientist Jim Kauahikaua.

If the road is cut, one alternative would be to bulldoze a connection to Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which would make the Puna-Hilo commute 125 miles, up from 36.

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