Amid Hawaii eruptions, expert says Oregon's volcano threat is low

Experts said the eruptions, and the hundreds of earthquakes that have hit the southeaster part of Big Island over the past week, could continue for days, weeks or even months.

Posted: May 7, 2018 6:21 PM
Updated: May 7, 2018 7:19 PM

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- As people in Hawaii continue to evacuate their homes, we wanted to know if any volcanoes in Oregon could do similar damage.

Massive mounds of lava are rolling up streets and swallowing cars in the southeastern part of the Big Island. It has destroyed more than 30 homes and has forced 1,800 people to evacuate their homes.

Experts said the eruptions, and the hundreds of earthquakes that have hit that area over the past week, could continue for days, weeks or even months.

KEZI spoke to Adam Kent who is a volcanologist and professor at Oregon State University.

He said the last large eruption that happened in Oregon was more than 200 years ago. Kent said Oregon has a variety of volcanoes with most of them located in central Oregon. The volcanoes here are steeper sided than the ones in Hawaii which are rounder. Since they are steeper in Oregon, he believes the lava wouldn't flow as far as it does in Hawaii if they were to erupt.

However, he said volcanoes are very unpredictable.

"We could get a range of things going from something like Mt. St. Helens in 1980 which produced an eruption that threw a lot of magma in the air, then that ash sort of dispersed a long way,” said Kent. “But we could also get an eruption a lot more like in Hawaii over the weekend which is sort of runnier magma that would come out of the ground and flow long distances."

He said the Kilauea volcano has been erupting on and off for the last several decades.

Kent said the next large eruption in Oregon probably won’t happen for hundreds if not thousands of years.

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