Hawaii lava flow inches ever-closer to homes


On the upside: more Hawaii.


How are the wooden fence posts still there?

If it was my house being threatened, I might consider getting an excavator or dozer to dig trenches and or push up berms to divert the lava. Or do local rules prevent the private re-routing of lava. Seems sensible that they would. Just like I’m not allowed to do something with stormwater that would flood my neighbours’ properties.


This is why it’s so important to have a well-maintained municipal lava drainage system.

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Such is life on an active volcano.

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it’s a mix of issues- lava flows are notoriously unpredictable (short of vaguely calculating the most direct descent, as they do over on the Hawai’i Volcano Observatory’s update page: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/) so there’s no guarantee that barricading the homes wouldn’t further screw things up, let alone be entirely successful. Along with that, you also have cultural sensitivities around what the flow represents- diverting the flow could be seen as pretty blasphemous. There’s a pretty cool town hall video of locals opinions on diversion over here: http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2014/09/05/video-hawaiians-rebuke-lava-diversion-talk/


Humanity sure does love to build things on top of unstable fault lines, in flood prone areas, below sea and stormsurge levels, and underneath volcanoes.

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Man, people are clueless. Everyone knows you don’t use barbed wire to keep lava in, you need an electric fence. Without that shock it learns the fence is not a barrier.


And also in tornado country, forest fire country, rockslide country, sandstorm country…

It’s easy to mock people for building in places with environmental hazards, until you realize that that’s darn near everywhere.


John McPhee’s wonderful book, The Control of Nature, has a large section detailing the battle to save an entire Icelandic town through this and other methods.

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You’re reading more into my comment than I put into it.

Here on the Big Island, we console ourselves with the knowledge that we have never had a problem with locusts.


There was a town in Denmark, Heimeay, that built a wall by spraying water on the lava. It worked… just.

Have to remember that’s rock. It’s around 3x as heavy as water and its pretty hard to stop a foot of water from going where it wants to go.

Fair enough. It is a common argument, though, and worth addressing even if it wasn’t your argument.

There was a political cartoon I saw a decade or more ago that was a rotating newsreel of Americans saying “Sure, my house got wiped out by [tornado/mudslide/earthquake/flood/wildfire], but at least I’m not risking [next thing on the list] like those idiots in [place]!” Wish I could find it now.


What really surprises me is that the grass next to the red-hot lava is still green. I’d’ve figured it would be crisped brown or black long before.


Interesting video. Placing faith in Pele’s intentions to spare the land of those who respect her is not a strategy that I would bet on.

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Hawaii Electric Light is trying to protect wooden utility poles from advancing lava by adding a layer of insulation and a cage of rock.
HELCO pole impacted by lava, no interruption of service this time

It appears to be working, at least until the pole gets completely buried by the flow.

Dig some trenches at an angle to the direction of the houses, spray water on one side when it starts flowing out… surely they should be trying these things… get yer hands dirty Xeni!! :slight_smile:

Where’s George Patton when you need him?
Volcano Bombing

Yes, good book. It also has a lot of detail on the difficulties of keeping New Orleans from flooding. It was published years before Katrina.

It’s fun to talk about the technical challenges of diverting lava and all, but in many of these cases, whether they be town built below sea level, mansions built on constantly eroding cliffs in Malibu, or a few homes built in the way of a lava flow, it makes a lot more economic sense to just write it off and relocate/rebuild the structures, rather than wage an all-out battle against powerful natural forces.