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Can lava from the US’s Mauna Loa volcano be stopped? | Volcanoes Information

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Prayers. Bombs. Partitions. Over the many years, individuals have tried all of three to staunch the circulate of lava from volcanoes within the US state of Hawaii because it lumbered in direction of roads, properties and infrastructure.

Now Mauna Loa – the world’s largest lively volcano – is erupting once more, and lava is slowly approaching the primary thoroughfare connecting the Huge Island’s east and west sides. And as soon as extra, individuals are asking if something might be accomplished to cease or divert the circulate.

“It comes up each time there’s an eruption and there’s lava heading in direction of habited areas or highways. Some individuals say, ‘Construct a wall’ or ‘Board up’, and different individuals say, ‘No don’t!’” stated Scott Rowland, a geologist on the College of Hawaii.

People have hardly ever had a lot success stopping lava and, regardless of the world’s technological advances, doing so continues to be troublesome and depending on the pressure of the circulate and the terrain. However many in Hawaii additionally query the knowledge of interfering with nature and Pele, the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes and fireplace.

Makes an attempt to divert lava have an extended historical past in Hawaii.

In 1881, the governor of Hawaii Island declared a day of prayer to cease lava from Mauna Loa because it headed for Hilo. The lava stored coming.

In line with the US Geological Survey, Princess Regent Lili’uokalani and her division heads went to Hilo and regarded methods to save lots of the city. They developed plans to construct boundaries to divert the circulate and place dynamite alongside a lava tube to empty the molten rock provide.

Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani approached the circulate, provided brandy and crimson scarves, and chanted, asking Pele to cease the circulate and go residence. The circulate stopped earlier than the boundaries have been constructed.

Greater than 50 years later, Thomas A Jaggar, the founding father of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, requested US Military Air Companies to ship planes to bomb a Mauna Loa vent to disrupt lava channels.

Lieutenant Colonel George S Patton – who later turned well-known as a common in Europe throughout World Battle II – directed planes to drop 20 272-kilogramme (600-pound) demolition bombs, in line with a Nationwide Park Service account of the marketing campaign. The bombs every had 161 kilogrammes (355 pound) of explosive TNT. The planes additionally dropped 20 smaller bombs that solely had a black-powder cost.

Jagger stated the bombing helped to “hasten the tip of the circulate”, however Howard Stearns, a US Geological Survey geologist onboard the final bombing run, was uncertain. In his 1983 autobiography, he wrote: “I’m positive it was a coincidence.”

In line with the park service, geologists at the moment are also uncertain the bombing stopped the lava circulate, which didn’t finish with the bombing. As a substitute, the flows waned over the subsequent few days and didn’t change paths.

Rowland, the geologist on the College of Hawaii, stated that authorities at the moment might use a bulldozer to pile a giant berm of damaged rock in entrance of Daniel Okay Inouye Freeway. If the terrain is flat, then lava would pile up behind the wall. However the lava could circulate over it prefer it did when one thing comparable was tried in Kapoho city in 1960.

Quickly transferring lava flows, like these from the Kilauea volcano in 2018, could be harder to cease, he stated.

“It could have been actually laborious to construct the partitions quick sufficient for them. They usually have been heading in direction of teams of properties. And so you’d maybe be sacrificing some properties for others, which might simply be a authorized mess,” he stated.

He stated he believes most individuals in Hawaii wouldn’t need to construct a wall to guard the freeway as a result of it will “mess with Pele”.

If lava crosses the freeway, Rowland stated officers might rebuild that part of the highway as they did in 2018 when completely different routes have been coated.

Hawaii County’s director of civil defence, Talmadge Magno, stated on Wednesday the county has no present plans to attempt to divert the circulate, although he has had some discussions about it.

Hawaii Governor David Ige, who was governor through the 2018 Kilauea eruption, informed reporters his expertise confirmed him it isn’t potential to beat nature and Pele.

Pondering you must bodily divert lava is a Western thought rooted within the notion that people have to manage every part, stated Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner. She stated individuals want to regulate to the lava, not the opposite approach round.

“We aren’t separate from nature,” she stated. “We’re part of nature.”

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