Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted more than a week ago and its still causing incredible destruction. Deep fissures are cracking in the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods and lava had shot up high into the air, causing damage to cars, homes, and roads. Around 2,000 residents have been forced to evacuate, and it might get worse. The US Geological Survey released a warning that the summit might begin hurling ten ton boulders down on the surrounding regions, as the Washington Post reported.
If the boulders launch, it will be due to the "lava lake" from Kilauea's center flowing into groundwater under the nearby areas. When the two meet, it could cause buildup of pressure that could make the volcano shoot ash, rocks, and boulders up to 20 miles away.
Ever since Thursday's initial blast, the "lava lake" in Kilauea's center has been draining, as molten rock flows into and around Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens via underground streams. According to the USGS, if the lake keeps dropping, it could hit groundwater within weeks—creating a buildup of steam pressure that might cause the volcano to explode, shooting ash, rocks, and boulders as far as 20 miles away.
"If an explosion happens, there’s a risk at all scales," USGS volcanologist Donald Swanson told the Post. "If you’re near the crater, within half a mile, you could be subject to ballistic blocks weighing as much as ten or 12 tons.”
According to Swanson, smaller rocks could fly miles from the volcano's summit, and a cloud of ash might fly "from the sky like snow."