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natural disasters

The volcano in Hawaii could toss 12-ton boulders half a mile like 'ballistic projectiles'

President Trump on Friday declared a major disaster in Hawaii as continued lava flow from the Big Island's Kilauea volcano since May 3 has destroyed 36 structures, covered 117 acres, and forced the evacuation of 1,700 people.

Some 15 volcanic vents have opened up in and near the Leilani Estates neighborhood, a subdivision close to the volcano, and "additional outbreaks of lava are likely," said the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. More "energetic ash emissions" and "ballistic projectiles" of various sizes of rocks are expected as well.

"Scientists said that as the surface of the lava pool at the volcano's summit recedes, it could cause rocks from the crater to fall into the opening where the lava levels have dropped," reports The New York Times. "The hot rocks would then interact with groundwater, causing steam pressure to build up and eventually releasing a larger explosion at the summit." Boulders weighing up to 12 tons could be tossed up to half a mile from the volcano's summit.