Hawaii volcano – Kilauea erupts on Big Island spewing ash cloud 30,000ft into the sky
A VOLCANO has erupted in Hawaii, spewing lava and a dangerous ash cloud 30,000ft into the sky.
Kilauea's 'strong' blast follows a series of earthquakes, including a 4.4-magnitude shake – with residents warned to stay indoors to avoid exposure.
The blast follows warnings that Kilauea is growing more explosive and that a "major eruption" is imminent.
A red aviation code has been issued warning pilots to avoid the ash cloud.
The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island erupted after about 9.30pm, the US Geological Survey confirmed.
The eruption began late Sunday within the Halemaumau crater.
The volcano is located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
An advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu warns of fallen ash from the volcano.
Excessive exposure to ash is an eye and respiratory irritant, it said.
The 4.4-magnitude quake was centered about 14km (8.7miles) south of Fern Forest, at a depth of 6km (4miles), prompting hundreds of residents to report the shake.
The USGS added: "Shortly after approximately 9.30pm, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected [a] glow within Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano."
It then noted: "An eruption has commenced within Kilauea’s summit caldera.
"The situation is rapidly evolving and HVO has elevated Kilauea’s volcano alert level to warning and its aviation color code to red."
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said on Facebook: "HVO reports an eruption at the Halemaumau Crater of the Kilauea Volcano.
"Trade winds will push any embedded ash toward the southwest.
"Fallout is likely in the Kau District in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View.
"Stay indoors to avoid exposure to ash.
"Preliminary data indicates that the earthquake measuring a magnitude of 4.4 was centered in the vicinity of the South Flank of Kilauea was not strong enough to cause a tsunami.
"There is no tsunami threat to Hawaii Island."
Shari Ann commented on Facebook: "Of course it’s erupting again. Because why not, it’s 2020. Stay safe Big Island peeps!"
The ash blast and earthquakes come days after USGS wrote of the "beginning of a new chapter in Kilauea Volcano activity".
"Kilauea can still be considered one of the most active volcanoes on earth and the next eruption from Kilauea Volcano is just a matter of time," USGS warned.
Its experts wrote on December 17: "The range of possibilities for future events at Kilauea is wide open.
"Following an earthquake swarm on November 30, 2020, that was centered in the middle of Kilauea caldera, several pulses of heightened earthquake activity were recorded in the upper East Rift Zone.
"During the early morning hours of December 2, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) detected another spike in summit seismicity rates, which continued throughout the day.
"Then, at about 5.45pm, HST, earthquake activity intensified, this time centered under the southern part of Kilauea caldera, near the edge of the new down-dropped eastern portion."
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano – a brief history of one of the world’s most active lava-spewers
- Kilauea has had more than 60 recorded eruptions in just one active cycle, and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983.
- It is a shield volcano (meaning it's composed almost entirely of fluid lava flows) located on the southern part of the Central Pacific island.
- Kilauea's frequent, short eruptions usually cool and halt before reaching the coast.
- By 1919 it had reached its current depth of 500ft.
- In 1955, an eruption in the east rift, accompanied by a series of quakes, caused lava to pour from fissures over a period of 88 days, destroying more than 6 square miles (15 km) of land.
- A shorter occurrence in 1975 was followed by a destructive tsunami.
Shield volcanoes (like Kilauea) are shaped like a bowl in the middle with long gentle slopes made by basaltic lava flows – this is the most common type of lava on Earth and consists of high amounts of iron and magnesium.
Lava domes are formed when erupting lava is too thick to flow and makes a steep mound as it piles up near the volcano's vent.
In 2019, the Associated Press wrote that for the first time in recorded history, a pond of water was discovered inside the summit crater of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.
This was seen as a development that could signal a shift to a more explosive phase of future eruptions.
When lava interacts with water, it can cause explosive eruptions.
Two years ago, The Sun reported how the Kilauea volcano erupted in a "large explosion" with officials warning that “ballistic blocks” weighing several tons could be fired more than half a mile across Hawaii.
On July 16, 2018, 23 holidaymakers were injured when a lava bomb crashed through a tourist boat.
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