Hawaii volcano erupts from summit, sends huge plume into sky

  • This Wednesday, May 16, 2018, image provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava spattering from an area between active Fissures 16 and 20 photographed at 8:20 a.m. HST, on the lower east rift of the Kilauea volcano, near Pahoa, Hawaii. Plumes range from 1 to 2 kilometers (3,000 to 6,000 feet) above the ground. Officials say some vents formed by Kilauea volcano are releasing such high levels of sulfur dioxide that the gas poses an immediate danger to anyone nearby. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit before dawn Thursday, shooting a dusty plume of ash about 30,000 feet (9,100 meters) into the sky.

The explosion came after two weeks of volcanic activity and the opening of more than a dozen fissures east of the crater that spewed lava into neighborhoods, said Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The lava destroyed has destroyed at least 26 homes and 10 other structures.

The crater sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11 in preparation for an eruption.

Officials have said they didn’t expect the explosion to be deadly as long as people remained out of the closed national park.

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. An eruption in 1924 killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days.

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 boulders the size of refrigerators into the air.

Scientists predicted it would mostly release trapped steam from flash-heated groundwater released as though it was a kitchen pressure cooker.

Communities a mile or two away may be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, they said.

Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983.

It’s one of five volcanoes that comprise the Big Island of Hawaii, and the only one currently erupting.

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