Explosive morning on Kilauea

Arturo Kim
May 18, 2018

The wind could carry Kilauea's ash plume as far as Hilo, the Big Island's largest city and a major tourism center, the County of Hawaii Civil Defense warned in an alert.

The National Weather Service issued an ash advisory and then extended it through early evening, and county officials distributed ash masks to area residents.

This is because Kilauea is a so-called shield volcano, which is typically broader in shape and has lava that is relatively fluid.

The explosion at the mountain summit came shortly after 4 a.m. following two weeks of volcanic activity that sent lava flows into neighborhoods and destroyed at least 26 homes.

"The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area".

The lava, which was seen by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at 6 p.m. Thursday local time, is the pahoehoe variety.

Residents with respiratory problems had already been warned to stay indoors in the area on Thursday following an early morning ash cloud eruption at the Halemaumau Crater.

"We may have additional larger, powerful events", USGS geologist Michelle Coombs told reporters after Thursday's eruption.

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"I don't think there is a big one that's coming", said University of Hawaii vulcanologist Scott Rowland.

Authorities warned citizens to beware of fallen utility lines and poles, and the spread of toxic gas emanating from the ash plumes.

"Our shelters are set up so we're not downwind from where the gasses are", he said. "Fortunately no (volcanic) vents opened up today, but this event is far from over".

Lava illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano at fissure 13 on Hawaii's Big Island on May 16, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.

The crater spewing ash sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11 as a safety precaution over risks of a violent eruption. It caught sight of an explosive eruption on Thursday morning at Kilauea's summit.

Civil defense workers handed out one ash mask per family member in communities close to Kilauea, such as the village of Volcano, which was expected to receive a 1/32 of an inch (0.8 millimeters) dusting of ash, according to USGS estimates. He explained from time to time he can feel the rumblings from the active volcano.

Other than phreatic eruptions can still pose a deadly threat to anyone near the eruptive vent - which is somehow extremely hard to forecast, Poland stated. More than 30 people were killed when a 2014 phreatic eruption at Japan's Mount Ontake are not aware of the summit.

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