Monday, January 18, 2010

Hualalai: Ticking Time-Bomb or Tragedy Just Waiting To Happen?

Seriously, if Hualalai does erupt soon, in horrific, destructive fashion, I'm going to look like a jerk for mocking the "sleeping giant"*. The USGS, for one, says that "Hualalai is considered a potentially dangerous volcano that is likely to erupt again in the next 100 years." "Likely." And that page is dated 2001, so we're down to 90 years.

UH's School of Oceanic and Earth Science and Technology (Or SOEST, which took fourth in the "worst acronym of 2003" awards) provides no more comfort: "[Hualalai's]
summit is only 15km ( 9.3 miles!) away from the town of Kailua-Kona and a flow as voluminous as the 1800 eruption could cover that distance in a few hours."

A letter to WHT's editor from a local teacher, dated September 11(!), 2009, gives us even less time:

One volcanologist I spoke with told me, and he was clear that his statement to me had to be "off the record," that he would "bet my career" that Hualalai will erupt within the next 50 years. Hualalai is a time-bomb waiting to go off and the government has no plans at all to evacuate people from the area.


Civil Defense has no plans for an eruption; indeed, most people in Kona think the volcano is extinct. Due to her steep slopes it has been estimated that in the 1801 eruption lava from Hualalai went from summit to sea in only about two hours.
Two hours? Imagine trying to evacuate any part of Kona in two hours. Our government unprepared and clueless? I'd say "run for the hills" but that's probably not the best advice.


Aaron Stene said...

The Hawaii County CD Director tried
to reassure the natives with this letter to the editor in response to the teacher's concerns.

navychappy said...

Aloha John,
I have been researching and watching Hualalai as my wife and I are moving to Kailua-Kona in April. What I have found through the USGS is the following articles from 2001, 2006, & 2009 (links below):


All three of these articles explain the monitoring that is happening, and fact that there is under-monitoring, but that there have been no signs that there has been any volcanic activities to indicate that an eruption could be happening any time soon.
There has been no bulging of the mountain to show a build-up lava beneath the surface. I do not think we have anything to worry about any time soon.