Monday 21 May 2018

Hawai'ian man injured by lava bomb from Mount Kilauea.

A Hawai'ian man has suffered a broken leg after being struck by a lava bomb (chunk of lava thrown from a volcano, in either liquid or solid form), described as being as heavy as a refrigerator, from Mount Kilauea on Hawai'i (or 'Big') Island on Sunday 20 May 2018. The man is described as having been on his balcony at the time of the incident. The volcano began erupting from a new fissure on its eastern flank on 3 May 2018, since when a series of fissures have opened up, producing several major lava flows, which have destroyed many homes and other properties, and at least one of which has reached the sea, producing a laze (toxic haze resulting from hot lava hitting water, producing chemical-laden steam. At the same time the volcano has produced a number of gas and ash columns, some of which have reached over three kilometres in height, which are described as being particularly rich in hydrochloric acid, sulphur dioxide and volcanic glass.

Lava flow on Mount Kilauea. USGS/AP.

The islands of Hawai'i have formed as a result of hotspot volcanism, with a mantle plume hotspot currently located under Big Island, Hawai'i, and each of the other islands being the result of previous activity from the same hotspot, with the oldest Islands in the northwest and newest in the southeast. A volcanic hotspot is an area where magma from deep inside the Earth is welling up through the overlying plate (in this case the Pacific) to create volcanism at the surface. Volcanoes move as they erupt, swelling as magma enters their chambers from bellow, then shrinking as that magma is vented as lava.

 The position of the Hawai'i Hotspot relative to the islands of Hawai'i. Joel Robinson/USGS/Wikimedia Commons.

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