HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A museum at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park might not reopen because the erupting Kilauea volcano could make the site unusable, officials said.
Artifacts from the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum were being removed last week because park staff saw building cracks inside the museum, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .
The building, which also houses the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, hasn't been structurally assessed. But there is concern that it could slide into the volcano's growing summit crater, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.
"Every single day, we are sustaining damage from these ongoing earthquakes," Ferracane said. "The cracks and the fractures along the overlook of Jaggar go through rock walls down through the ground."
Even if the volcanology museum is spared from destruction, it might not be safe to reuse, Ferracane said.
"It's mildly possible it could be reused," Ferracane said. "I'm not sure if we want to reuse it because of the proximity to a very unstable cliff."
Ground cracks have appeared in the parking lot and building, but the site does not appear to be breaking away, said Steve Brantley, deputy scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
"The intermittent ash falls and the earthquake shaking and slow but continuing damage to the HVO buildings means that it is not a viable to place for as long as this activity continues," Brantley said. "The longer term status of the buildings is not known at this time."
The museum building was constructed in 1927 and offered views of the lava lake inside Halemaumau crater. The museum had displays of the equipment used by scientists to study the volcano.
Geological survey staff relocated to the Hilo campus of the University of Hawaii.
Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/