Seismic activity and explosions ramp up at Kilauea summit

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Seismic activity and explosions ramp up at Kilauea summit

Nearly continuous plumes of ash are pouring from Killauea's summit crater amid ongoing eruptions on the Big Island. (Image: USGS) Nearly continuous plumes of ash are pouring from Killauea's summit crater amid ongoing eruptions on the Big Island. (Image: USGS)
Huge plumes of ash poured from Halemaumau Crater as volcanic activity at the summit continued. (Image: Janice Wei) Huge plumes of ash poured from Halemaumau Crater as volcanic activity at the summit continued. (Image: Janice Wei)
A thick plume of ash pours out of Halemaumau Crater, sending ash as far away as Pahala. (Image: USGS) A thick plume of ash pours out of Halemaumau Crater, sending ash as far away as Pahala. (Image: USGS)
A webcam captured a huge plume of ash after another explosive eruption Monday morning (Image: USGS) A webcam captured a huge plume of ash after another explosive eruption Monday morning (Image: USGS)
  • breakingSeismic activity and explosions ramp up at Kilauea summitMore>>

  • Here's what to do if ash falls in your community

    Here's what to do if ash falls in your community

    Thursday, May 17 2018 5:17 PM EDT2018-05-17 21:17:09 GMT
    Ash fell on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now)Ash fell on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

    The possibility of explosive eruptions at Kilauea's summit crater is prompting civil defense officials to warn residents about how to handle ashfall. 

    More >>

    The possibility of explosive eruptions at Kilauea's summit crater is prompting civil defense officials to warn residents about how to handle ashfall. 

    More >>
PAHALA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Earthquakes and explosive eruptions continue to rock Kilauea's summit crater, prompting ashfall concerns for downwind communities.

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 4.5-magnitude quake happened around 2 a.m. near the Kilauea summit, following a large eruption that sent an ash plume about 15,000 feet into the air. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake did not trigger a tsunami.

And just the day before, a 4.4-magnitude earthquake around 5:40 p.m. on Monday struck near the same region. There was no tsunami threat, either. 

The latest explosion at the summit was around 6:30 a.m. Monday morning, sending an ash plume about 15,000 feet into the air, according to the National Weather Service. Just two hours earlier, another explosion created an ash plume soaring 12,000 feet into the air.

These explosions, along with lighter easterly winds, are expected to push volcanic gases, vog and ash westward toward more communities, including Kurtistown, Mountain View and Glenwood, officials said. 

The explosive eruptions have been happening for weeks, sending ash raining down on communities.

"The repeated eruptions have led to some buildup of ash ... which will continue even with the lighter winds," National Weather Service forecaster said. "In addition, any ash deposited will likely be picked up by local winds, contributing to dusty conditions."

Geologists say there's no telling when the explosions will end.

They say the violent eruptions are "consistent" with steam-induced explosions — lava interacting with the water table. 

Before the eruptions began, scientists had warned that explosions at the summit could send heavy ashfall across communities near the summit and toss boulders "the size of cows" as far as a half a mile.

Given the threat, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed, and civil defense officials are urging those who live near the crater to remain vigilant.

The news comes as civil defense authorities continue to respond to Kilauea's ongoing eruptions in lower Puna, where thousands of people remain under mandatory evacuation orders.

The last time steam-induced eruptions happened at Halemaumau Crater was nearly a century ago, when flying debris killed one and left a layer of ash over homes and cars.

In 1924, explosive events at the summit lasted for two and a half weeks and ash reached as high as 20,000 feet above sea level.

Scientists say they're using the 1924 event as something of a baseline, using it to determine how long this volcanic event might last and how strong eruptions could be.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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