Friday, 21 September, 2018

Hawaii volcano erupts from summit, shooting ash

This view is nearly due north of the Halema‘uma‘u plume. Click to enlarge This view is nearly due north of the Halema‘uma‘u plume. Click to enlarge
Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2018, 22:27

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, the biggest explosion yet driving a plume of ash and debris 30,000 feet into the air and putting Big Island residents on further notice that a bigger blast could still be percolating in the volatile crater. "The wind will carry the plume toward the southeast".

Aside from the lava flows, the National Weather Service released a statement Wednesday regarding the potentially risky air quality brought by the ash fall and volcanic smog that came from Kilauea. Accumulations were expected to be less than a quarter of an inch in the areas surrounding the summit of the volcano. The agency advises people in the path of the ash plume to shelter in place.

Volcanic ash is expected to reach the region to the southwest and west of the Kilauea Volcano Summit (Halemaumau Crater), including cities of Wood Valley, Pahala, Punaluu, Naalehu, and Hawaiian Oceanview Estates, the National Weather Service said in an advisory. He said he did not hear anything either and is in an area that did not get any ash.

It is not clear if Thursday's was a phreatic eruption, which USGS officials have been saying is capable of sending ash plumes as far as 12 miles away from the summit. Geologists have been warning about such an explosion for days, and have said previous thick emissions from the crater were likely due to rockfalls or gas explosions.

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"We're all safe, and I wish they'd open the park back up, but they have to keep it safe for everybody", said Ken McGilvray, an area resident. "Now they're acting like it's all super-dangerous and everything, but it just kind oozes out".

The news comes amid worsening air quality conditions on the Big Island, and as civil defense authorities continue to respond to Kilauea's ongoing eruptions in lower Puna, where thousands of people remain under mandatory evacuation orders.

"At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent", the U.S. Geological Survey said on its Kilauea status page. Scientists predicted it would mostly release trapped steam from flash-heated groundwater released as though it was a kitchen pressure cooker. Computer models of where the ash might fall are available at the United States Geological Survey website.

The volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983.

Ms Gabbard, a Democrat, in a letter sent Friday, asked Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William Long to respond to "short- and long-term housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and public health effects to Hawaii Island".

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