Kilauea Volcano FAQ's: Can the lava be diverted? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kilauea Volcano FAQ's: Can the lava be diverted?

We've been telling you about some common questions regarding the eruption in Lower Puna.

Here's one that the scientists at USGS receive:  Can the lava be diverted?
Experts say this is a difficult issue. There are legal, economical and cultural considerations. The USGS says lava diversion is only feasible when there are lesser-value lands downslope where flows can be directed - AND when there is enough to plan everything out. This doesn't happen often.

Officials have tried to divert lava flows before in Hawaii.
In 1935 - a famed Army General oversaw an operation to drop bombs on a flow from Mauna Loa that was advancing toward Hilo.  That eruption eventually ended, but it's not clear how successful the actual bombing was.
They tried explosives again seven years later - when lava threatened Hilo again, but there's no evidence to prove it actually helped.
Barriers were built in Puna in 1955 and 1960 to try and divert the flow ... but that also didn't work. The lava just toppled the walls.
 Crews tried to stop the Kalapana flow in 1989 ... by using thousands of gallons of water as it approached the Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center, but that didn't work ... and the structure was destroyed.
There was another attempt in 2014 to build berms to try and move the flow away from Pahoa.
So - whose decision is it to try and divert flows?  County and state officials.
The experts at USGS and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory advise those officials from a scientific standpoint only.

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