Scientists in Hawaii warn of more eruptions from Kiluaea

Lava spattering from an area on the lower east rift of the Kilauea volcano near Pahoa Hawaii.U.S. Geological Survey via AP

Lava spattering from an area on the lower east rift of the Kilauea volcano near Pahoa Hawaii.U.S. Geological Survey via AP

Thursday's explosion sent an ash plume around 30,000 feet high.

"I got the call to come out Monday morning", said Dennis Hoyt, who lives in Walsenbur.

"This has relieved pressure temporarily", USGS geologist Michelle Coombs told a news conference in Hilo.

This is the kind of event that we had been expecting might happen at Halemaumau based on the interaction of the dropping lava levels with ground water, so this explosive event is consistent with what we were thinking might happen.

The miles-high ashy plume is drifting northeast, and it isn't a loner.

The National Weather Service issued an ash advisory and then extended it through the early evening, and county officials distributed ash masks to area residents.

Hawaii's emergency management agency advised people in the area affected by ash to stay in their homes if possible.

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 refrigerator-sized boulders into the air.

A spike in toxic sulphur dioxide gas closed schools around the village of Pahoa, 40 km east of the volcano, where fissures have destroyed 37 homes and other structures and forced about 2000 residents to evacuate, health officials said. She compared it to the ash from a fireplace "except smaller".

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The ash was a bit of an irritant, he said, but "not too bad".

Rocks two-feet wide are already raining down on occasion.

"It's totally weird", she said.

So far, he said, Thursday has been a "nice rainy day".

"By about 7 o'clock the next morning I was setting up and managing a shelter", Hoyt said.

Update: 6:07 a.m. From the summit of Mauna Loa volcano, 20 miles away, some photographs display an anvil-shaped plume billowing on the horizon.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano spewed ash 30,000 feet above the island on Thursday, but while it remains one of the most active volcanoes in the world, experts say the type of eruptions that are occurring in Hawaii now are inherently less deadly than some of the biggest in history. "We also have masks if needed and have a safe place for people to be". Driving conditions may be risky so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves.

Original: 5:17 a.m.

Some Big Island residents had feared "the big one" after Kilauea shot anvil-sized "ballistic blocks" into the visitors' vehicle park on Wednesday and was rocked by earthquakes that damaged buildings and cracked roads in the park that was closed last week.

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