Reuters reports that fifteen fissures have opened since Kilauea’s vents started spraying fountains of lava up to 300 feet (90 meters) into the air on Thursday and 116 acres (47 hectares) of land have been covered with lava.
Kilauea has been in a state of nearly constant eruption for 35 years. It predominantly blows off basaltic lava in effusive eruptions that flow into the ocean but occasionally experiences more explosive events.
A powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake on the volcano’s south flank shook the area on Friday. It was the second largest of the last century in Hawaii. More earthquakes and eruptions have been forecast, perhaps for months to come.
Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea is located, remains open to tourists, albeit with some restrictions.
Geologists are warning that Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano – which has been belching toxic gas and oozing lava into a residential area for the past week — could erupt explosively in the coming weeks.
The possibility of such a sudden eruption will increase as lava flows from Kilauea’s summit crater down its face and magma falls below the water table, the U.S. Geological Survey says. That could create steam pressure that would then explode, it says.
The volcano could then eject “ballistic rocks” of lava up to several feet in diameter, the USGS said.
#HVO/#USGS Volcanic Activity Notice
for #Kilauea: Steady lowering of lava lake at summit of #KilaueaVolcano has raised potential for explosive eruptions in coming weeks. https://t.co/7sDZqcOJ5s @CivilDefenseHI will issue alerts if needed: https://t.co/uYm7YGqOmq #KilaueaErupts pic.twitter.com/2tPcrlxiZS
— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) May 9, 2018
Don Swanson, a geologist with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told reporters that the magma is likely to drop below the water table around the middle of the month.
“We suspect it’s a rapid process. We really don’t know for certain,” he told reporters on a conference call.
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May 10th, 2018