As thousands flee Hawaii’s Big Island ahead of the imminent ‘explosive’ eruption of the Kilauea volcano, some have been seen taking a less dramatic approach.
A logic-defying photograph taken on Tuesday shows a group of golfers more concerned with finishing their round than the mountain spewing ash and sulphur dioxide 12,000 feet into the air behind them.
The US Geographical Survey (USGS) says Kilauea has 20 open fissures now, with some of them continuously erupting and that lava bombs the size of microwaves were found a few hundred yards from the Halemaumau crater on Wednesday morning.
‘This morning dense ballistic blocks up to two feet across were found in the parking lot a few hundred yards from Halemaumau,’ a daily report from the organisation said.
A group of golfers were seen playing a round nearby Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting for 11 days, as an ash cloud forms behind them
The volcano now has 20 open fissures, and is firing out lava bombs the size of microwave ovens
‘These reflect the most energetic explosions yet observed and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity… additional such explosions are expected and could be more powerful.’
On Tuesday, the USGS said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the crater had ‘raised the potential for explosive eruptions’.
Earlier in the day, the summit of the volcano was hit by a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, but no tsunami warning was issued.
As of 7pm on Wednesday, Hawaii has had 122 earthquakes greater than 1.5 magnitude in the past 24 hours.
The volcano has been erupting for 11 days, and more than 2,000 residents have already been evacuated.
A statement from the USGS and Hawaii Volcano Observatory says while not all of the existing 20 fissures are currently spewing lava, they can be reactivated, and conditions are prime for new fissures to open both southwest and northeast of the existing ones.
‘Communities down-slope of these fissures could be at risk from lava inundation,’ the statement said.
‘Activity can change rapidly.’
Ash clouds from the volatile volcano are rising up to 12,000 feet into the sky, prompting airline alerts
More than 2000 residents have already been evacuated, and the US Geographical Survey said on Tuesday they were expecting a major eruption imminently
The USGS said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano’s Halemaumau crater raised the potential for ‘explosive eruptions’
On Wednesday morning, officials found lava bombs the size of microwave ovens hundreds of feet away from the volcano
On Tuesday, the USGS also raised the volcano aviation alert level at Hawaii’s Kilauea to red – the highest level – which indicates a ‘major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both on the ground and in the air.’ The rating stayed as it was into Wednesday.
The Hawaii Volcano Observatory assigned an aviation code red, which indicates there is a significant ash emission which is posing a hazard to aircraft.
Despite this, photographer Mario Tama said when he captured the men playing golf, they appeared unaffected by the dramatic situation surrounding them.
‘I walked over to the left and they started to tee up and that’s when I shot those photos,’ he told the Washington Post.
‘I still can’t understand it. They seemed to be completely nonplussed. I don’t even recall them even looking at [the volcano]. They were completely focused on their game.’
And while some people were playing golf, others couldn’t help but tempt fate by travelling out near the volcano to take a selfie or video the immense plume of ash reaching into the sky.
Despite the danger, locals Cherie Daniel (left) and Lisa Magno (right) were seen taking a selfie nearby the ash plume
Jolon Clinton, 15, also captured imagery on her phone, but wore a gas mask as warnings of toxic air conditions began to spread
A statement from the USGS and Hawaii Volcano Observatory said communities down-slope of Kilauea should be prepared in the event they are ‘inundated’ with lava
Webcams placed near the edge of the Kilauea volcano, which have been refreshing every few minutes, showed gases and scorching lava spluttering out as fissures continue to form after more than 10 days of continuous eruptions.
‘It’s optimistic to think that this is the last fissure we’re going to see,’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Deputy Scientist-In-Charge Steve Brantley said earlier this week. He said a similar seismic event in 1955 lasted 88 days.
Satellite images captured this week show the immense devastation Kilauea has caused to residential and farming areas of Big Island.
Patches of land are seen completely killed off, with once green areas turned brown or black, and the houses built on the land appearing a similar colour.
While thousands are fleeing the area, remaining residents put out bottles of alcohol in an attempt to appease Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire.
Aerial images show the destruction Kilauea has caused in the nearby area of Pahoa. Left is the area in May 2017, and pictured right is the area on May 2018
While thousands are fleeing the area, remaining residents put out bottles of alcohol in an attempt to appease Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire (pictured)
Pictured: Plants begin to grow through the hardened lava flow in Pahoa, nearby Kilauea