Hawaii volcano spews 6 mile-high plume of ash, could blow again

Kilaue volcano larva flow on the island of Hawai’i today. Image USGS

Michael Poland of the U.S. Geological Survey, agreed, saying there's no concern that Kilauea could explode like Mount St. Helens did back in 1980. One of the latest shots is a view of a "moonscape" with a massive rock in the middle.

"But the conditions to have the sorts of explosions that occurred during (those centuries) do not exist right now, so such explosions are not expected", he said.

Hawaii County officials have warned residents about sulfur dioxide, which is so thick in one area that authorities evacuated a neighborhood.

Tarson said the ash plume looked different than others he's witnessed because of its sheer height.

A volcano on Hawaii's Big Island erupted anew Thursday 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.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials said the caldera - the depression at the center of the volcano - dropped more than three feet (900 cm) overnight, triggering frequent earthquakes that have cracked highways in the area.

Scientists said the eruption was the most powerful in recent days, though it probably lasted only a few minutes.

"Such an eruption could happen suddenly and send volcanic ash 20,000 feet into the air, threatening communities for miles", the US Geological Survey said.

The advisory has also emphasized new policies for the safety of Hawaii residents, as the update pointed out that for most of the people on the islands, the main danger is the ash fallout. The eventual eruptions generated ash clouds more than five miles (8 km) high and threw blocks weighing as much as 28,000 pounds (12,700 kg) out of the crater.

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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.

However, Kilauea has experienced violent explosive eruptions in the past, Poland said, including several from roughly 1500-1800.

As the lava level shrank, "there is nothing holding those walls up", Krippner said.

Time lapse images taken from a camera at the Gemini Telescope on the Big Island captured the eruption plume just before sunrise.

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

Since a new zone of Kilauea began erupting nearly two weeks ago, lava has wrecked dozens of homes and forced hundreds of people to be evacuated.

Self says Kilauea could bring localized damage and injury to the Big Island, but no one knows for how long.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes. An eruption in 1924 killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days.

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