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Mt. Kilauea
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Pacific Coast Residents – Look Out For The Hilina Slump!

By James Donahue

Recently we wrote about the exploratory oil and gas drilling going on near Cumbre Vieja, an active volcano on La Palma Island, in the Canary Island chain off the coast of Spain. The problem is that there is a massive 500-ton block of lava, part of the island that is slowly sliding toward the sea.
Geologists worry that a volcanic eruption or earthquake in that area may send this massive rock cascading into the Atlantic, thus stirring a super tsunami with enough power to wipe out major cities and coastal communities all along the Atlantic coast of North and South America, Europe and Africa.

While Cumbre Vieja may be a concern for folks living on the Atlantic seaboard, people living on the Pacific rim also have a problem that goes beyond the fact that they are living on the deadly ring of fire where the ground is constantly shaking beneath their feet.
It seems there is another cracked volcano in the Hawaiian Island chain known as the “Hilina Slump” that could be even more deadly than Cumbre Vieja if it also slides into the sea.
The Hilina Slump is a colossal piece of the Kilauea volcano, measuring about 5,000 cubic miles in its size, located on the big island of Hawaii. That is scary about this piece of mountain is that is has broken away from the south side of the volcano. The point where the break occurred is known to the natives as “The Big Crack.” The crack widens by about four inches every year, sometimes moving faster and sometimes slower. 

While geologists can’t predict when and if the Hilina Slump will make a sudden plunge into the sea, they say such an event is possible. The last time an event like it happened at Hawaii was about 110,000 years ago. It was such a destructive event it sent waves 1,600 feet high into all of the lands on the Pacific Rim.
There is evidence found in the rock all around the rim that a very large and damaging wave once changed the face of the shoreline from Alaska southwest to Australia.

The Hawaiian Islands are among the newest chains of volcanic lands that have erupted on the planet. Because of this, the volcanic activity is more active there then in other places. And as the volcanos erupt, constantly building piles of mountainous land mass, parts of these young piles of lava are constantly cracking and falling into the sea.  When the pieces are large, they are called slumps. Smaller piles of rubble are known as debris avalanches.
It is the slumps that shoreline residents need to worry about. They happen more frequently than you might think.

On April 2, 1868, an earthquake with a magnitude estimated between 7.25 and 7.75 hit the southeast cost of Hawaii, causing a landslide at Mauna Loa volcano. The slide killed 31 people.

On November 29, 1975, a 40-mile wide piece of Hilina Slump slid into the ocean. It caused a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and a 47-foot high tsunami that altered the shoreline at Keauhou Bay, killed two people at Halape and washed buildings from their foundations in Punalu’u.