Kilauea Volcano: First Human Injury Caused by Projectile Lava Spatter

Things are getting worse.

Authorities in Hawaii continue to monitor and warn residents about the movement of lava from the Kilauea volcano that started erupting on May 3. Even with locals being cautious, one person received a harmful injury from lava spatter while he was three floors above ground.

A resident of Noni Farms Road was hit with lava spatter while he was on his third-floor balcony, Reuters reported on Sunday. The spatter shattered the man’s leg from his shin to his foot. This is the first reported injury since the Kilauea volcano erupted. Janet Snyder, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii, also said that lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces can kill.” No other details were made available.

Since May 3, lava has flowed from more than a dozen fissures caused by the Kilauea volcano eruption. When a volcano emits lava, it can do so in an almost fountain-like fashion with molten rock shooting a few feet or hundreds of feet in the air in varying sizes with temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the pressure from the volcano, large rocks can also shoot out causing serious damage.

As lava flow devastates the area surrounding the volcano, which is located on southeastern part of the Big Island of Hawaii, authorities warned of laze. Laze forms when lava makes it to the ocean causing hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles to rise into the air. They cautioned resident as laze plume can change direction based on the wind.

Even though lava flowed from Kilauea volcano since 1983, the latest eruption has yet to stabilize. Scientists are not sure how long it will take before the volcano calms down. Local authorities continue to monitor and create additional escape routes for residents if needed.

A 2012 research paper from Rice University gave some insight on why Kilauea and another volcano on the island, Mauna Loa, may be linked thus making one active while the other stays dormant.