Hawaii volcano eruption: Kilauea sparks fear of CHAIN REACTION threatening US West Coast | World | News
The US West Coast’s Cascades Range features an 800-mile chain of volcanoes from Washington’s Mount Baker to Lassen Peak in California.
Liz Wesby from the US Geological Survey (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver said: “There’s a lot of anxiety out there.
“They see destruction and people get nervous.”
Mount St. Helens in California, one of the peaks raising concerns among citizens, last experienced a violent eruption in 1980 killing dozens of people while Mount Rainier in Washington towers over Seattle’s metropolitan area.
The US volcanoes have been active to varying degrees over the years but the ongoing eruption in Hawaii has reminded people of the unexpected dangers of mother nature.
Brian Terbush from the Washington Emergency Management Division volcano programme said: “From an emergency management perspective, we are confident that most volcanoes in the Cascades could lead to a situation that overwhelms local/state resources, and might become a declared Disaster.
“By sheer size and area it might impact and popularity, and history of hazard, but also thinking of all of those long-term impacts, a large Lahar from Mt. Rainier would definitely be a catastrophic disaster that would significantly impact a huge number of people in the US”
At least 50 fiery mountains across the Ring of Fire have been deemed by the USGS to be a high priority for monitoring.
The biggest current risks are posed by the five active volcanoes spread across Hawaii’s eight-island archipelago.
The USGS said: “The Hawaiian Islands are at the southeast end of a chain of volcanoes that began to form more than 70 million years ago.
“Each island is made of one or more volcanoes, which first erupted on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and emerged above sea level only after countless eruptions.”
Another Hawaiian threat comes from the subaquatic Loihi Seamount volcano, about 35km southeast of Big Island.
The ancient volcano last erupted in 1996 with a swarm of 4,070 earthquakes – the highest number of Hawaii earthquakes in history.
Hawaii County authorities sent a text message to residents in the southeast corner of Big Island, warning a wind change would bring rising levels of sulfur dioxide gas, which is fatal if inhaled in large quantities.
The text said: “Due to decreasing tradewinds, residents are advised to monitor their sensitivity to increased levels of SO2.”