The Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and it keeps spewing lava from its fissures.
The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii erupted on the night of December 20, and lava fountains, huge puffs of gas, and steam were seen on the summit crater called Halemaʻumaʻu, the Scientific American quoted the Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO), part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), as saying.
Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and it keeps spewing lava from its fissures. However, the recent eruption was more intense than the "background" streams of lava that keep coming out of the cracks. "For the past several weeks, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has recorded ground deformation and earthquake rates at Kilauea Volcano's summit and upper East Rift Zone that have exceeded background levels" since a 2018 eruption, the observatory said in a statement.
Video from W rim of the caldera just before midnight. As of December 21 at 1:30 a.m. HST, the growing lava lake has almost reached the level of the lowest down-dropped block that formed during the 2018 collapse events. Over the past 2 hours, the lake has risen by ~10 m (32 ft). pic.twitter.com/Qbx1d6hbq4— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) December 21, 2020
The advisory given to the residents by the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency (COH) is meant to keep the people safe and out of the way of harm. Residents have been told to stay home after the volcano erupted following a series of earthquakes, according to CNN. The eruption took place on the Big Island. The Kilauea Volcano observatory has since raised the alert level to "warning". The advisory also mentioned that a glow was detected within the crater and "an eruption has commenced within Kilauea's summit caldera."
"Trade winds will push any embedded ash toward the Southwest. Fallout is likely in the Kau District in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu, and Ocean View. Stay indoors," a tweet from COH said.
JUST IN: In a statement Sunday night, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) said that shortly after 9:30 p.m. "the HVO detected glow within Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano. An eruption has commenced within Kīlauea’s summit caldera." https://t.co/WNQiKkDlUx— ABC News (@ABC) December 21, 2020
The vigorous eruption was caused by a new lava flow interacting with a pool of water inside the crater, said Tom Birchard, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Hawaii, to the Guardian. The water evaporated out of the lake and that led to a steam cloud shooting up about 30,000ft (9km) into the atmosphere, Birchard said.
The National Weather Service in Honolulu issued an advisory warning as fallen ash from the volcano might be clouding the area. Ash can cause eye and respiratory irritation, it said. The agency later added that the eruption was slowing down and only a "low-level steam cloud" was present in the area. "Hazardous volcanic gases are billowing out the crater and present a danger to everyone, especially people with heart or respiratory problems, infants, young children, and pregnant women," said the National Park Service.
Webcam captures start of #Kīlauea summit eruption. First image is from Dec 20 at 9:20 p.m. HST, approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the eruption. Final image taken at 1:06 a.m. HST on Dec 21. #Kilauea2020 pic.twitter.com/ffUwAUKL2Z— USGS Volcanoes🌋 (@USGSVolcanoes) December 21, 2020
Kilauea's south flank has been affected by more than 30 earthquakes of magnitude-4 or greater in the last two decades, according to HVO. The south flank was shaken by an earthquake at 10:36 p.m. HST (3:36 a.m. EST, 8:36 a.m. UTC) by a 4.4-magnitude earthquake on December 20. The earthquake's center was almost 4 miles deep and about 8.7 miles south of Fern Forest, inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said the Scientific American.
The last big eruption took place in the spring of 2018 when the floor of the Pu'u 'Ō'ō's crater, on the eastern side of the volcano's rift zone, collapsed on April 30. It had pushed magma underground southeast. On May 3, the Big Island was hit by a magnitude-5.0 earthquake near the Pu'u 'Ō'ō crater. That had led to lava flowing into residential subdivisions in the Puna district of the Big Island. People were evacuated from their homes back then.