Kilauea volcano erupts, Hawaii hands out 18000 ash masks

Kilauea volcano erupts, Hawaii hands out 18000 ash masks

Kilauea volcano erupts, Hawaii hands out 18000 ash masks

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano spewed ash almost six miles (30,000 feet/9 km) into the air on Thursday and scientists warned this could be the first of a string of explosive eruptions in the crater. "I hope the House of Representatives will move quickly to approve this timely legislation so that we can ensure the U.S. Geological Survey has the resources it needs to strengthen our monitoring, warning, and response capabilities".

A USGS update on Wednesday describes "dense ballistic blocks" and warns, "Additional such explosions are expected and could be more powerful".

Residents of the Big Island were warned to take shelter from the ash as toxic gas levels spiked in a small southeast area where lava has burst from the ground during the two-week eruption. Mount St. Helens last rumbled to life in 2008, but a massive eruption in 1980 killed 57 people and blew ash over a dozen states.

"Yesterday was not like this", she said of the ash. The volcano on Hawaii's Big Island erupted anew Thursday shortly after 4 a.m. with little sound and only modest fury, spewing a steely gray plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky that began raining down on a nearby town.

346 strengthens existing volcano monitoring systems - which include the Cascades Volcano Observatory, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory - and would unify them into a single connected system called the National Volcano Early Warning System.

Officials have said the eruption isn't likely to be unsafe as long as people stay out of the closed park. "I think the worst case is about 1,000", he said, but "some may elect to stay there because they are so self-sufficient".

Scientists with the USGS have not yet figured out the cause of explosions like the one that happened Thursday morning.

Fissure No. 17 northeast of Lanipuna Gardens was active but with less lava being added to the flow, said Steve Brantley, deputy scientist-in-charge at Hawaii Volcano Observatory. But Kilauea could release hotter, faster-moving and more voluminous lava because magma has moving into the area from further up the volcano, she said.

Several schools closed due to the levels of ash in the air, and locals who live near the volcano are evacuating.

"With stratovolcanoes, when that lava reaches the surface, you get a very sudden expansion of that gas, and this generates a much more violent explosion", Malone said.

The Hawaii National Guard troops are assisting in fire prevention, air quality tests and traffic control, as well as preparing evacuation plans and providing support to local law enforcement, said Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokesperson. Residents in the path were taken to a shelter, and the USGS said, "Driving conditions may be risky so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves".

Kevin Kushel, a resident of the island, told AFP that Thursday's plume of smoke could be seen miles away.

Despite the volcanic activity, Hoyt said most people on the island are going about their day as normal.

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