Hawaii’s Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupts

Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, began erupting early on Monday in a remote area that last erupted a half-century ago, the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

The eruption is about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the Kilauea caldera, in an area within Hawaii Volcanoes national park that last erupted in December 1974. The area surrounding the caldera has been closed to the public since 2008 because of other hazards, including ground cracking, instability in the crater wall and rockfalls.

“Glow is visible in webcam imagery, indicating that lava is currently erupting from fissures,” the USGS observatory said. The eruption in 1974 only lasted about six hours. The observatory said it was not yet possible to tell how long this eruption will last.

“The eruption is currently ongoing but is taking place in a remote location within the national park, is low in eruptive volume and does not pose an immediate threat to human life or critical infrastructure,” the observatory said.

A rainbow over the new eruption at the summit of Kilauea, on 10 September 2023. Photograph: USGS Volcanoes/AFP/Getty Images

Civil defense officials said: “Some areas may experience elevated gases, take precautions if you are sensitive to volcanic gases.”

Mitch Roth, the Big Island mayor, said residents are accustomed to eruptions happening within the park. “People just need to realize this is in one of the safest places it could have happened,” he said. “Absolutely no property in danger.”

Typically the primary hazardduring Kilauea eruptions is volcanic gas, which reacts with the atmosphere to create volcanic smog, or “vog”. The vog can present health hazards for residents and visitors, damage plants and affect livestock, the observatory said.

“The only that thing I’m a little worried about right now is air quality,” Roth said. He said communities of Oceanview and Naalehu may experience some air-quality issues.

Kilauea last erupted in September after an eruption in June 2023 that was several weeks long. The June eruption was impressive, displaying fountains of lava but not threatening communities or structures. Sightseers flocked to Hawaii Volcanoes national park for safe views of the lava.

The observatory logged roughly 250 earthquakes beneath the Kilauea summit in the hours before the eruption began. The observatory said it would issue updates on the eruption daily, as well as whenever there are significant changes in volcanic activity.

Kilauea, Hawaii’s second-largest volcano, erupted from September 2021 until last December. A 2018 Kilauea eruption destroyed more than 700 homes.

Associated Press contributed to this report

The Guardian

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