Saturday, December 01, 2007

Does Kilauea's lava flow threaten Kalapena?

A new lava outbreak from Kilauea volcano hasn't gained much ground over the last few days, easing fears that it could threaten Kalapana and the Royal Gardens subdivision.

The change in the eruption of the lava started Wednesday directly from a fissure in the volcano, creating two new lava flows nearly directly over an eruption site that became active July 21.
Researchers observed from a flight Friday that the "Thanksgiving eve" flows advanced just 330 feet, stalled and began to pool.

"The lava is just kind of pooling up in this area," said volcanologist Tim Orr.

The official report on lava threats hasn't changed over the last four months.

"There are no immediate threats directly from lava flows," according to the Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory.

The road to Kalapana dead ends, as it has since 1990, in a hardened lava flow that still looks fresh.

Robert Keliihoomalu, who runs an awa bar from his property, said he doesn't want to see a repeat of the 1990 flow, when the lava came to the edge of his property before stopping.

"This lava can go anywhere where God wishes it to go. It all depends on where man lives their life. We must live in prayer," he said. "I think it belongs over there, and I hope it stays there."

Next to Keliihoomalu's awa bar, Teresa Nicole sells handcrafted jewelry to tourists who want to see the black sand beach nearby.

She isn't worried about her business being threatened by the lava because she could easily move it to another high-traffic area if she needed to.

"I'm excited, definitely, about the flow coming into our view again," she said. "We'll see."

Close to 200 structures were destroyed by lava since Kilauea's current eruption began in 1983.
The lava channel is located 11 miles above Pahoa Village and surrounding rural suburbs.

An average of 500,000 cubic meters of molten rock has emerged daily since it first broke through in July.

It moved in a different direction from previous Kilauea lava that long flowed into the ocean.

Fingers of lava extended as far as 3 1/2 miles northeast from the eruption.

There are two people who still live in the Royal Gardens subdivision, including a bed-and-breakfast operation, Orr said.

"The flows are still a long way away," he said.

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