Hawaii Volcano Erupts Anew, Sends Huge Ash Plume into Sky

A plume of volcanic steam rises from the alignment of fissures in Hawaii's Kilauea East Rift zone, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Cindy Ellen Russell/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit before dawn Thursday, shooting a steely gray plume of ash about 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) into the sky that began raining down on a nearby town.

The explosion came about 6 a.m. after two weeks of volcanic activity that included the opening of more than a dozen fissures that spewed lava into neighborhoods. At least 26 homes have been destroyed.

The explosion probably lasted only a few minutes, and the ash accumulations were minimal, with trace amounts expected near the volcano and in the town named Volcano, said Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The crater sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11 because of the risk of a more violent eruption.

Officials have said the eruption isn’t likely to be dangerous as long as people stay out of the closed park.

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.

This photo provided by U.S. Geological Survey shows the ash plume at the Kīlauea Volcano, taken from a Mauna Loa webcam on Thursday, May 17, 2018 in Hawaii. (U.S. Geological Survey/HVO via AP)

Scientists warned on May 9 that a drop in the lava lake at the summit might create conditions for an explosion that could fling ash and boulders the size of refrigerators into the air.

Geologists predicted it would mostly release trapped steam from flash-heated groundwater released as though it was a kitchen pressure cooker.

Communities a mile or two away may be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, they said.

The volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983. It’s one of five volcanoes on Hawaii’s Big Island, and the only one currently erupting.


By SOPHIA YAN and AUDREY McAVOY , Associated Press

This Thursday, May 17, 2018 image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a view of the ash plume resulting from an early morning explosion at Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii. The volcano has erupted from its summit, shooting a dusty plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky. Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, confirmed the explosion on Thursday. It comes after more than a dozen fissures recently opened miles to the east of the crater and spewed lava into neighborhoods. (U.S. Geological Survey/HVO via AP)
In this Tuesday, May 15, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, highly viscous lava oozes from the edge of a flow spreading slowly from fissure 17 at Kilauea Volcano, in Hawaii. Earthquakes were damaging roads and buildings on Hawaii’s Big Island on Wednesday as ash emissions streamed from Kilauea volcano. Scientists say earthquakes may shake loose rocks underground and open up new tunnels for lava to flow.
(U.S. Geological Survey/HVO via AP)
An aerial view of Hawaii’s Kilauea East Rift zone and the Puna Geothermal Venture plant is seen, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Earthquakes were damaging roads and buildings on Hawaii’s Big Island on Wednesday as ash emissions streamed from Kilauea volcano. (Cindy Ellen Russell/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
Ken McGilvray, of Keaau, Hawaii, golfs in Volcano, Hawaii as ash from the summit crater of Kilauea volcano rises in the background, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. McGilvray lives about 12 miles away from the area where homes from lava fissures are being destroyed, and he has friends from the Leilani Estates neighborhood staying with him after they evacuated. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
Two Hawaiian nene birds walk on a golf course in Volcano, Hawaii as ash from the summit crater of Kilauea volcano rises in the background, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The plume is separate from the lava eruptions happening about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away from summit. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
FILE – In this June 22, 2004 file photo, an offering to Pele, goddess of Hawaiian volcanoes, adorns the cliffs above the newest lava flow from Kilauea volcano as it enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn in Volcano, Hawaii. When residents of rural Hawaii neighborhoods where lava from Kilauea volcano has burned down or threatened to consume their homes, a name often comes up: Pele. Pele, known as the goddess of volcanoes and fire, is an important figure in Hawaiian culture. (AP Photo/David Jordan, File)
FILE – In this May 5, 2018 file photo, offerings of ti leaves, rocks and cans to the fire goddess Pele, lie in front of lava as it burns across a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision as an unidentified person takes pictures of the flow near Pahoa, Hawaii. When residents of rural Hawaii neighborhoods where lava from Kilauea volcano has burned down or threatened to consume their homes, a name often comes up: Pele. Pele, known as the goddess of volcanoes and fire, is an important figure in Hawaiian culture. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)
This Wednesday, May 16, 2018, image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows sulfur dioxide plumes rising from fissures along the rift and accumulating in the cloud deck, viewed from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory overflight in the morning at 8:25 a.m., HST near Pahoa, Hawaii. Plumes range from 1 to 2 kilometers (3,000 to 6,000 feet) above the ground. Officials say some vents formed by Kilauea volcano are releasing such high levels of sulfur dioxide that the gas poses an immediate danger to anyone nearby. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

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