Hawaii Volcanoes National Park reopened Sunday (May 6) at 3 p.m. local time following a sequence of large, violent earthquakes that prompted a two-day closure and evacuation of park visitors and staff last Friday.
"Our primary objective is the safety of employees, park partners and visitors," said park superintendent Cindy Orlando. "The limited opening allows us to respond to new volcanic and seismic events should they occur and the closures that remain are necessary to keep people out of dangerous and unassessed areas. Visitors should expect changing conditions and be prepared for unannounced closures," she said.
The 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Friday and a slew of aftershocks and smaller earthquakes that preceded it triggered rock slides on trails in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and caused a coastal cliff to collapse into the ocean. Officials ordered a rare closure of the park, which covers more than 10 percent the island's total area. About 2,600 visitors were evacuated.
Now, park staff are busy assessing trails, roads and buildings in the park. The following areas of the park are open due to National Park Service: the Entrance Station from Highway 11 to Jaggar Museum, Kīlauea Visitor Center, Sulphur Banks Trail , Steam Vents parking lot, the Entrance Station to the 1969 lava flow near Mauna Ulu, Mauna Ulu to Pu‘uhuluhulu, Escape Road from Highway 11 to Mauna Ulu, Mauna Loa Road from Highway 11 to the Mauna Loa Lookout and Kīpukapuaulu. Crater Rim Trail is open from Kīlauea Overlook to Jaggar Museum only. Nāpau Trail is closed past Pu‘uhuluhulu.
Due to the hazardous and unpredictable ash plume coming from Pu'u 'Ō'ō vent, there is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) above the vent. Aircraft (including drones) are not permitted in the TFR, which extends 3,000 feet above ground level and a two-mile radius from the vent. Relief aircraft on official flights approved by the National Park Service are the only aircraft allowed in the area.
The Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916. Its star attractions are the landmasses that give the park its name: 13,677-foot (4,000-meter) Mauna Loa, the world's most massive volcano, and 4,091-foot Kilauea, the world's most active volcano. The first and largest of the Big Island's national parks, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains its most visited, welcoming more than 2.5 million visitors annually.
fm/eg (nps.gov, AFP, hawaiimagazine.com)