Tuesday, May 22News That Matters

Hawaii volcano eruptions: “Lava chaser” records Kilauea “lava bombs”


A self-described “lava chaser” documented the jaw-dropping fury of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island in a Facebook live stream. Demian Barrios was on scene Sunday morning and recorded his first-hand encounter with a cellphone for about 15 minutes.

On the video you can hear a newly opened fissure hissing toxic gas and he documented rocks and blobs of hot lava as they blew high into the air.

Barrios spoke with CBS News on Monday afternoon to say that he used an iPhone to capture the incredible video and that it was “spur of the moment.” He began the live stream by describing what he said were “lava bombs” about “half the size of a VW Beetle” raining down. He said it was an intense encounter and that he waited his whole life to see something like it.

Barrios said he was filming in the Kapoho community — which is located in the Puna district of Hawaii, where a 17th fissure opened up early Sunday morning.

You can watch the entire encounter in the Facebook video below, or by visiting his Facebook page at this link, or his Instagram account.

Barrios took shelter on the deck of a neighbor’s house as he filmed the fissure spew lava into the air. He said that the house was struck by a “lava bomb” on the roof, but out of respect he didn’t show the damage.

Barrios told CBS News that the residents of the house where he filmed want him back to do more video coverage. He mentioned that the same house was struck again Sunday night by a “lava bomb.”

At one point in the Facebook live video, he takes a selfie showing him wearing a gas mask with the fissure and plumes of smoke behind him.

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Demain Barrios during a Facebook live stream documenting a fissure that had opened Sun., May 13, 2018.

Facebook/Demain Barrios

Barrios spoke to the camera to reply to some Facebook users who were asking him questions during the stream, but didn’t share his exact location. He called the experience “absolutely mind blowing.”

At one point in the video, Barrios showed a chunk of lava that had cooled on the road:

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Demian Barrios records himself reaching out to touch a “lava bomb” hurled by a fissure caused by the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, May 13, 2018.

Facebook/Demain Barrios

Nonstop eruptions

Kilauea is the youngest and most active of the five volcanoes on the Big Island. It’s been erupting continuously since 1983, but not the way most people think, not like Mount St. Helens in 1980, spewing straight up and everywhere.

A couple of miles below Kilauea is a constantly fed “hot spot” of superhot molten rock from deep inside Earth. It needs to find a way out. Rather than exploding, at Kilauea “you get an oozing of lava at the surface,” explains U.S. Geological Survey volcano hazards coordinator Charles Mandeville.

The molten rock is called magma when it is underground; when it reaches the surface, it is called lava. The lava flows out through cracks in the ground, usually within the confines at the national park that surrounds Kilauea (pronounced kill-ah-WAY’-ah). But this time the eruptions are destroying homes.

“This kind of eruption that is occurring now is very normal for this volcano,” volcanologist Janine Krippner of Concord University in West Virginia. “It’s really that it’s just impacting people.”

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