Explosive eruption in Hawaii prompts ashfall advisory

Explosive eruption in Hawaii prompts ashfall advisory

After several weeks of lava spewing from various fissures, Big Island's Kilauea volcano has erupted.

The bill directs the U.S. Geological Survey to unify current volcano monitoring systems - including the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Alaska Volcano Observatory and the Cascades Volcano Observatory - into a single, connected system called the National Volcano Early Warning System. One of the latest shots is a view of a "moonscape" with a massive rock in the middle.

Poland says ash accumulations are minimal and that trace amounts were expected near the volcano and on a nearby town, named Volcano. The USGS estimates the rock was about 2 feet (0.6 meters) across before it broke up on impact. "We may have additional larger, powerful events".

Dennis Hoyt
Dennis Hoyt

USGS geologists and staff were evacuated from the Kilauea summit shortly before the explosion. It looked like it was a steam and ash plume.

It sounded downright ominous when the U.S. Geological Survey provided an update on Thursday morning's explosion on Kilauea that sent a huge plume of ash rocketing into the sky.

Scientists, the news service said, blamed the high levels of the gas on emissions from fissures in lower Puna.

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Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, last experienced explosive eruptions in 1924.

Pahoa fire station recorded a "red level" of sulfur dioxide, meaning the gas would cause choking and an inability to breathe, Fenix Grange of the Hawaii Department of Health told a news conference in Hilo. "It's not going to be the only one".

Epic Lava tour operator John Tarson is an early-riser who was awake and says he only knew about it because an alert came in on his phone. Passenger jets generally cruise at around 30,000 feet, the height of Thursday's plume.

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Mount Pinatubo last erupted in 1991, killing more than 350 people in what became the second-largest eruption of the 20th century.

Robert Hughes, the owner of Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast in Volcano, said he's had "tons" of cancellations since Wednesday when geologists first warned of the explosive eruption. This type of eruption has the potential to carpet the Big Island in much thicker ash than current dustings.

Ash masks will be distributed today in Pahala, Volcano, Na'alehu and Kea'au, the county said in a news release.

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News coverage of the Big Island events have been pretty balanced, Tolentino said, but noted that inaccuracies have not helped, especially when a national news outlet reported Oahu residents were forced to evacuate.

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