Scientists are predicting an eruption that shot ash almost 9 kilometres into the sky could be the first of a series of powerful explosions to rock Hawai'i's Kilauea volcano, reports SBS News.
But they say they expect no loss of life given that the most exposed residential areas have been evacuated and the region where the volcano is located - on the southeastern part of the island - is not densely populated.
The masks do not protect against sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas that is still seeping from 21 fissures caused by volcanic activity.
"This is the sort of explosive activity that was anticipated", Poland told The Post. The state of Hawaii continues to be open for business. This may be a potential precursor of the Big One, when boulders are expected to fly.
Residents were asked to take to take shelter in place if they found themselves in the path of the plume anyway.
Kilauea has been erupting now for two weeks but Thursday's episode saw its highest ash plume yet.
"The last time the volcano near the summit was in the same condition as now was in 1924 and in that year, we had about a two-week period of large explosive eruptions out of the summit", he said.
Thursday's eruption lasted only a few minutes, said Coombs who called it "a big event that got people's attention, but did not have widespread impact".
It is among the five volcanoes that form the Big Island, and it is the only one actively erupting.
"Tall but small", she said of Thursday's plume.
As the molten rock dropped below the level of the water table, it's likely that water in the surrounding rock began pouring into the vacated chamber - much the way water rushes to fill a recently dug well, said Charlotte Rowe, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The new fissure was discovered at Leilani Estates, the neighborhood in Puna where the first new fissures were seen earlier this month when Kilauea suddenly became more active. "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.
Scientists can not say why the eruption is happening now, given that Kilauea has been active for 35 years.
"They said they slept through it".
Thursday's event was, if not the huge one, then certainly a big one, researchers told further.
This article was originally published by The Washington Post.
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