Deja vu Pompeii? Hawaii on high alert as Kilauea volcano may erupt anytime

Smoke rises from the Pu'u O'o vent on the Kilauea Volcano October 29, 2014 on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Smoke rises from the Pu'u O'o vent on the Kilauea Volcano October 29, 2014 on the Big Island of Hawaii. Reuters

Kilauea, the most active volcano of Hawaii region could erupt after hundreds of small frequent earthquakes and collapse of a crater floor at the Pu'u O'o vent, said the Hawaii County Civil Defense.

It has already closed the Pohoiki Road between Highway 132 and Leilani Ave due to recent cracks in the road. On Wednesday, many local residents reported several cracks on the roads that measured about 18 inches long and 2 inches wide.

Based on the recent geological situation, authorities have already asked the public to be on alert after scientists found that underground magma is flowing beneath the main road in the district of Puna.

Independent reported that more than 250 small earthquakes have been detected at Pu'u O'o vent since the crater floor collapsed earlier this week. Even though most of those shakes were minor, a 4.2 magnitude earthquake was also reported that shook the island on Tuesday.

Local firefighters and the US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) said that the cracks on the ground did not show an immediate threat but the scientists said that the seismic activity could lead to a lava eruption.

A spokesperson from Hawaii County Civil Defence Agency, Kanani Aton said local residents of east rift zone have been asked to be prepared for the worst situation by reviewing emergency plans and monitoring the activity, as the scientists assume that the eruption could come with a very little warning to evacuate.

USGS survey has shown that in the last 24 hours, there were 70 earthquakes, which occurred on the island with a magnitude of 2.5 or more. Geologists said that they were unable to pinpoint exactly the location where lave would burst. Areas such as Nanawele Estates, Leilani Estates and the coastal area of Kapoho could be affected.

As per the Hawaii News Now, Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said, "Should an eruption occur, residents along the east rift zone may have little warning. Residents in that area should be prepared to evacuate. The risk areas and possible hazards are being identified."

Scientists have installed additional GPS monitoring tools and have plans to deploy a crew to set up more monitoring equipment. Jim Kauahikaua, an HVO research geologist said that the recent seismic activities are quite similar to the condition before the Kilauea eruption, which took place in February 1955. During the last eruption, almost 24 separate volcanic vents had opened and an area of about 3,900 acres was submerged under lava.

Such geological phenomena is rare and in the past Pompeii, a city vanished after a sudden eruption from a volcano near the Bay of Naples in Italy. As per the history, in the year of 79 A.D., the Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the entire Roman city of Pompeii under the thick carpet of volcanic ash.

Almost 2,000 people died and in the eruption and the rest had fled the city. In 1748 when the site was discovered, archaeologists not only found the buildings and artefacts but also weird looking human skeletons under the volcanic ash.