Joan Lunden Behind Closed Doors: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano
In the next day or two, a 2,000 degree Fahrenheit river of lava could swallow up dozens of Hawaiian homes in the village of Pahoa – and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Kilauea Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has continuously erupted since 1983 with its’ molten rock traveling south towards the sea. And in 2002, I went Behind Closed Doors with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to join geologists in their terrifying line of work.
It’s these men and women who live and work in the shadows of a dangerously unpredictable hot zone that are fighting to keep villagers safe today. Always overcoming their instinctive desire to run away, they instead are doing everything they can to uncover the secrets behind this epic force of nature.
Behind Closed Doors: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano
It was this past June when everything changed for the local communities surrounding Kilauea, which covers almost 40 square miles. A new volcanic crater burst, or vented, releasing a new river of liquid rock traveling northeast towards Pahoa.
But no one will attempt to divert the lava flow. Instead, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency has rebuilt two gravel roads, giving residents escape routes from the fiery ooze.
While many have fled the area, others are staying to watch their homes succumb to the inevitable destruction that the lava brings. Late last night, the flow, moving 30 feet per hour, was just 350 yards from the nearest cluster of homes.
The geologists seen in this video clip go places that other people can’t, and take risks that no one else will to help keep people safe. I will never forget this glimpse into a terrifyingly beautiful world of work.
My thoughts are with the people of Pahoa.