(BIVN) – Scientists with the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory told a packed Kilauea Visitor Center auditorium within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park that explosions are likely to occur at the summit in the near future.
“The steady lowering of the lava lake in ‘Overlook crater’ within Halemaʻumaʻu at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano has raised the potential for explosive eruptions in the coming weeks,” the USGS stated in a new Volcanic Activity Notice issued Wednesday morning. “If the lava column drops to the level of groundwater beneath Kīlauea Caldera, influx of water into the conduit could cause steam-driven explosions. Debris expelled during such explosions could impact the area surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu and the Kīlauea summit. At this time, we cannot say with certainty that explosive activity will occur, how large the explosions could be, or how long such explosive activity could continue.”
The explosions are not expected to be deadly, said the assembled team of scientists, speaking to a room populated mostly by residents of Volcano Village and nearby subdivisions.
However, the explosions could produce clouds of volcanic ash. These clouds are very dilute and result in dustings of ash (particles smaller than 2 mm) downwind, USGS says.
“Should steam-driven explosions begin, ash clouds will rise to greater elevations above ground,” USGS stated earlier today. “Minor ashfall could occur over much wider areas, even up to several tens of miles from Halemaʻumaʻu. In 1924, ash may have reached as high as 20,000 feet above sea level. Small amounts of fine ash from these explosions fell over a wide area as far north as North Hilo (Hakalau), in lower Puna, and as far south as Waiohinu.”
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will close Friday due to the possibility of such an explosive steam event and ash fall.
USGS is recommending this resource on ashfall.
Residents of the Kīlauea summit area should learn about the hazards of ashfall, stay informed of the status of the volcano and area closures, and review family and business emergency plans, scientists say.