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Hawaii volcano imperils flora, fauna

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Hawaii, USA

June 21, 2007
The Associated Press
HONOLULU — A third large crack has formed on Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, park officials said Wednesday, and a forest that is home to rare plants and species could be in danger.
The fissure, spotted in an area a few miles southeast of Kilauea's summit, is near two others discovered since hundreds of small earthquakes were recorded in the area Sunday, suggesting that magma, or underground lava, was shifting beneath the surface.
The fissure was spewing steam, but was not oozing lava like the others did. Heat from the fissures could spark a fire, scientists said.

The area is home to honeycreeper birds, happy-face spiders and damselflies. There are also native trees and ferns found nowhere else in the state.
"This is a real vital part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It's a vital habitat," Gale said.
Scientists also detected hazardous sulfur dioxide concentrations near Kilauea's summit, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory.


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