Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Kilauea volcano erupts, Hawaii hands out 18000 ash masks

Residents watch the ash cloud Reuters Getty Kilauea volcano has exploded with a massive eruption shooting an ash cloud 30,000ft into the air
Sammy Stanley | 18 May, 2018, 15:06

Time lapse images show ash plume rising from the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.

Volcanologist Janine Krippner of Concord University in West Virginia said: "There's so many variables". "Persons with respiratory illnesses should remain indoors to avoid inhaling the ash particles and all persons outside should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth".

But by 1:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. EDT) reported ashfall was limited to only light, wet deposits about 3-4 miles (5-6 km) northwest of the summit, as rain over the volcano curbed the spread of ash. The threat was significant enough, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, that some first responders were pulled back from their positions on Thursday to safer areas.

The U.S. Geological Survey posted webcam footage of an ash plume billowing from the Kilauea's summit, and a plume of ash from an observation tower. "If it's red, it's get out of Dodge", she said.

That activity alongside the East Rift Zone caused a dramatic depressurization of the magma column below Kilauea's summit, which slowly draining the lava lake in the summit crater.

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Such an eruption could not only shroud large areas of the Big Island in volcanic ash and smog, but also other Hawaiian islands and potentially distant areas if the plume reaches up into the stratosphere and ash is carried by winds. In these days, smaller eruptions there sent ash surging into the sky.

But those events were "not the big one" caused by interactions between hot rock and ground water, Coombs said Tuesday. This may be a potential precursor of the Big One, when boulders are expected to fly.

The water would then flash into steam, "and steam as we know is a very powerful source of energy, a very powerful propellant", Rowe said.

Its last explosive eruption took place in 1924. No further evacuations are necessary at this point, Magno said. Experts say the explosive ballistic displays could continue for weeks, and they don't know when it's going to stop. On the other hand, stratovolcanoes - which include Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines and Mount St. Helens in Washington State - are usually taller and have more viscous lava flows with trapped gas that can generate volatile explosions. "They didn't hear it", Ms Aton said.

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