A new fissure has opened up on Hawaii’s Big Island in the wake of the eruption of Kilauea volcano.
The new fissure, the 16th to appear, spattered lava according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) while also warning that more outbreaks are likely.
Earlier this week the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory warned of “the potential for explosive eruptions” in the coming weeks. As the lava lake drains inside the summit of the volcano magma is running underground, which could burst to the surface.
President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in Hawaii to free up federal funds to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the wake of the volcano’s initial eruption on 3 May, after which lava began to flow into residential neighbourhoods.
Hawaii tourism officials have said there is no reason for visitors to change plans for booked trips even with the prospect of Kilauea potentially producing more violent explosions soon.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority has said that only Big Island, or Hawai’i is affected by the active Kilauea, and that only 10 square miles of the more than 4,000 square miles of the island needs to be monitored.
3D model shows inside the Hawaii volcano lava lake
The affected areas are on the island’s east coast, around 100 miles away from the main tourist stops and resorts on the western side of the island. George Szigeti, CEO of the tourism authority told the Associated Press Kilauea is being watched constantly and that the Big Island is “immense”, meaning there are large swathes of the island unaffected by the volcano’s activity.
At least one airline – Alaska Airlines – has appeared to drop the cost of flights to Kona, on Big Island’s western coast, from the Bay Area – although others are yet to follow suit.
Hawaii Governor David Ige had sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday, asking Mr Trump to formally declare an emergency, estimating that the costs to protect residents could exceed $2.9 million in the coming weeks.
Hawaii Kilauea volcano eruption: in pictures
”As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger scale evacuation increases. A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources,“ Mr Ige said in a statement announcing his request.
The 16 fissures that have opened on the eastern flank of Kilauea since the volcano erupted eight days ago have oozed slowing moving magma which has been relatively cool. Fresher magma, creating quicker moving and intensely hot lava flows, could now emerge behind it.
Geologists expect new lava outbreaks in or around the hard-hit Leilani Estates area in the southeastern Puna district, where 27 homes have been destroyed and all 1,900 residents have been evacuated.
Local residents received an alert on Friday morning that they may have have little or no time to evacuate in the event of future eruptions.
South of Leilani Estates, in the Kalapana-Seaview neighbourhood, the air quality is low and there are very few ways out of the area if an evacuation is ordered.
”There are some pretty level-headed, balanced people here who are trying to lead normal lives. But we also don’t want to be stupid,“ Cindy Hartman, 68, told Reuters about residents being on high alert for changes.