The eruption of Hawai'i's Kilauea volcano could continue for months or even years, according to a July 20 report from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Lava from the volcano has covered over 23 square kilometers (12 square miles), destroying 700 homes and adding 290 hectares (725 acres) of new land to the island. Previous Kilauea eruptions in recent years ceased when multiple fissures opened in the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ), the area where the Kilauea lava flow is active. This current eruption, however, has focused on a single fissure, allowing the pressure of the lava flow to remain high and makes it likely it will continue to erupt for months.
A deviation or breach from the current channel of lava could put new areas at risk of damage or destruction. Most of the land south of the LERZ has been evacuated. If a new path opened to the north, it would necessitate the evacuation of communities to the north of the LERZ.
Residents on the Island of Hawai'i near the ongoing eruptions have been told to be prepared to evacuate on short notice; thousands of people have already been evacuated in recent months. Several earthquakes have shaken the area since Kilauea's initial eruption on May 3. Lava has damaged and destroyed power and telephone lines, causing associated power outages and communications disruptions.
Most of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has been closed since May 11 as a precaution. US President Donald Trump has declared a state of major disaster in Hawaii, making federal funding available for recovery operations.
Individuals in Hawaii are advised to avoid areas affected by the volcanic eruptions, monitor the situation, and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders). An up-to-date map of recent lava flows can be found here from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
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