Newswise — Kilauea's Activity Has Environmental Consequences, Yet the Ocean are Largely Unaffected 

David E. Black, a marine geologist and Associate Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, is availavble to discuss the lava flows and activity around Kilauea in Hawaii, and its consequences.

Please review his expert profile

Professor Black is available for broadcast and other types of interviews, including via Stony Brook's ITK broadcast studio.

Statement on Kiluea erruptions and lava flow:

The numerous recent lava flows and eruptions in Hawaii have excited scientists and volcano enthusiasts around the world, although the people who’s homes lie in the path of the lava undoubtedly have very different feelings. The volcano named Kilauea has erupted almost non-stop since 1983, and while the lava flows have occasionally destroyed homes and property, Kilauea has not killed anyone in almost a century.

Volcanoes created most of the islands in the Pacific, and are a fundamental component of many Polynesian cultures.  Ultimately it is the volcanic activity that eventually leads to lush tropical vegetation fed by elements concentrated in the lava, beautiful landscapes that result from the weathering of volcanic rock, and spectacular black sand beaches created by the ocean’s breakdown of old, solidified lava.

While Kilauea’s current activity seems destructive, it’s making the island of Hawaii larger.  Still, there are environmental consequences of the eruption, particularly for those living in the Hawaiian islands.  Volcanoes emit more than just lava – gases are released during an eruption as well.  Some of the gases, such as water vapor, are relatively harmless.  Other gases, such as sulfur dioxide and gaseous hydrochloric acid, are much more dangerous to those within tens of miles of the eruption.   Microcrystalline glass shards created when the lava enters the ocean also pose a respiratory threat.  Still more gases that are released, like carbon dioxide, affect global climate over millions of years.  The oceans are largely unaffected by the current eruption, even where the lava is entering the ocean.  The lava might destroy a local coral reef, but the vibrant marine ecosystem of the Hawaiian islands will barely notice the eruption at all.