Scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have contacted me regarding a staggering development taking place right now during the eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii: An area of land on the south flank of the volcano known as the "Hilina Slump" - about the size of Manhattan - is moving and could BREAK OFF into the ocean, sending a Tsunami toward the west coast with 100+ foot waves moving at 500 miles per hour. Cities like San Diego, Los Angeles and others could be wiped off the face of the earth.
They say the bosses at USGS know about this and are intentionally concealing it from the public for fear of causing a panic. Media outlets in Hawaii and in Los Angeles have allegedly been specifically told not to say anything . . . yet . . . for the same reason.
I am breaking this story.
As most of the civilized world knows by now, the Kilauea volcano on the south side of Hawaii's big island, began erupting earlier this week.
Prior to the appearance of lava at the surface, hundreds of small earthquakes were felt. Then the quakes got bigger. A magnitude 5.6 struck Thursday evening and a strong Magnitude 6.9 was a sort of announcement by the volcano that it was time to blast off. This map from the USGS web site, shows the location of the Magnitude 6.9 quake and the rings indicate how far away the quake was felt:
Within minutes of that M6.9 quake, 2,000 degree lava began shooting out of the ground -- over 100 feet into the air -- through cracks in roads up to 12 miles away from the volcano crater! The lava quickly set homes ablaze.
But this is far from the worst of it. While all this shaking and spewing is taking place, the land atop all this lava activity is literally moving toward the ocean. Specifically, an area of land about the size of Manhattan in New York City, called the "Hilina Slump" is not only moving, deep cracks are appearing which SOME geologists fear are indications the Hilina Slump is going to BREAK OFF of the island, and fall into the ocean in one giant splash.
The Hilina Slump is an area of about 5,000 cubic miles of dirt and rock. If it breaks off and slides into the ocean (as has happened 60 times in the past elsewhere in the Hawaiian islands) a Pacific-wide-Tsunami would be generated, hitting the U.S. west coast with waves over 100 feet tall moving at 500 miles per hour.
San Diego, Los Angeles and other major cities would be wiped off the face of the earth.
This is a geological map of the Kilauea Volcano showing the Hilina Slump:
IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE
The Hawaiian Islands are home to the largest documented shoreline collapse in history, an ancient seaward landslide that sent rocks from the island of Oahu to sites more than 100 miles offshore. The avalanche of debris from the northeast shore of Oahu probably occurred between 1.5 and 3 million years ago, and it undoubtedly created one of the largest tsunamis in Earth's history, a wave large enough to inundate every coastline of the northern Pacific Ocean.
Today, geologists are saying that seismic and tectonic forces are creating the potential for a similar disaster on the southeast shore of the big island of Hawaii, near Kilauea volcano. The world's most active volcano, Kilauea is continually growing larger. At the same time, its seaward flank is moving toward the Pacific, currently at the rate of about 10 centimeters per year. Kilauea's movement takes several forms. Layers of lava and sediment atop the mountain are pulled down by the force of gravity. The entire mountain itself also moves slowly out to sea as magma derived from deep within the earth's mantle intrudes into the core of the volcano.
"From previous studies, we know that Kilauea is the site of an active landslide, the Hilina slump, which has moved in historic times," said Julia Morgan, assistant professor of Earth Science at Rice University in 2003. "We now recognize that Kilauea also experienced a catastrophic landslide in the past, possibly within 25,000-50,000 years, which is quite recent in geologic terms."
The 10-by-15 mile Hilina slump is now partially detached from the seaward flank of Kilauea, and a candidate for catastrophic collapse.
The Volcano is moving!
While there is no real consensus on why Hawaiian volcanoes move, the fact is that they do move. One of two things can happen when you apply enough force to move a volcano; neither is particularly good.
First, the volcano can move or slide fairly easily along its base. Generally the movement is relatively continuous, however a bit of sticking here and there can generate some rather large earthquakes. That's what we've had this week with Kilauea. Sticking, then earthquakes.
The structure that results from this type of movement is called a "slump." Generally, a large block of the volcano slides coherently and stretches the volcano. Because the block is lengthening, it must also get thinner. The result of this is a set of cuspate normal faults near the head of the slump. The blocks on the seaward side of the fault drop downward due to the fact that the moving block is thinner.
The Hilina slide on the southern side of Kilauea is an excellent example of a slump. The large "palis" or cliffs on the south side of Kilauea are the tops of the extensive fault system at the head of the Hilina slide. The faults downdrop blocks towards the coast over 2000 feet in places. The downdropped coastal side of the fault blocks are probably tilted back towards the rift zone, but have been filled in by numerous lava flows making them slope very gently (about 1 degree) towards the ocean.
During the 1990's, Kilauea was moving an average of about 10 cm a year seaward. This is a lot of movement for such a large object. This is a lot of ground to break and as you can imagine it results in some pretty large earthquakes. The last time that this appears to have happened was in 1868 and the result was the M8 Kau Earthquake.
Second, the volcano can get stuck and suddenly release, causing a massive earthquake and landslide. The Hilina Slump is said to be "the most rapidly moving tract of ground on Earth for its size." The Hilina Slump can move much faster. At 4:48 AM, November 29, 1975, a 37-mile-wide section suddenly dropped 11½ feet and slid seaward 26 feet. The result was a magnitude-7.2 quake and a 48-foot-high tsunami around Hawaii. This was a minor movement of the slump. If the entire 4,760-cubic-mile block broke off, (as some geologists who spoke with me today believe may take place) it would probably create a magnitude-9 quake and a tsunami 1,000-feet high.
All the coast-hugging cities of the Hawaiian Islands would be swept away. And LOOK OUT Australia, Japan, and California.
(SOURCE: Napier, A. Kam; "Landslide," Honolulu, p. 28, February 1997. Cr. H. DeKalb.)
Tsunamis travel at jet speeds on the deep, open, ocean and have such small amplitudes that ships rarely notice them. Only when they reach shallow water as they approach land, do they slow down and reach monstrous sizes.
It is about 2500 miles from Hawaii to Los Angeles. Given that Tsunamis travel at about 500 MPH, the ten million people living in and around L.A. would have between four and five HOURS to evacuate the entire city once the Hilina Slump collapses into the ocean. How the hell do you evacuate ten million people in 4 to 5 hours?
And that's just Los Angeles. What about the other large cities on the west coast: San Diego? San Francisco?
The fact that certain bosses at the USGS have told their subordinates not to reveal the magnitude of what's happening right now in Hawaii for fear of causing a panic is, in one aspect, noble. But the other aspect is HOW DO YOU EVACUATE TEN MILLION PEOPLE IN FOUR TO FIVE HOURS?
Quite simply, you don't. It cannot be done.
This is a brief, four minute video showing what would happen if the Hilina Slump falls off the Kilauea Volcano into the ocean. The story, with some important advice, continues below the video:
MAKE A PLAN RIGHT NOW
I want to be explicitly clear to all the folks on the west coast: At this time, there is NO tsunami and that may remain the situation. There is NO NEED TO PANIC or to evacuate at this time.
Yet, given the fact that officials in Hawaii and at the US federal level already know the Hilina Slump is moving and they are not telling anyone, it seems to me (as a reasonable person) the concealing of this information is not a wise decision.
Folks along the west coast should have a plan. If an evacuation order comes out, you'd better know at that instant where you're going and how you're getting there because believe me, when ten million other people find out they have to run for their lives or be killed by a tsunami in four or five hours, it will be utter, unimaginable, chaos.
Again, there is no need to panic, or to evacuate now. But be acutely aware of what is taking place right now in Hawaii because if the part of the Kilauea volcano called the Hilina Slump collapses into the ocean, you will be lucky to escape with your lives once an evacuation order is given.