Stuck On An Island With An Active Volcano, No Thanks

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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has erupted again today.

After being told to brace for “larger explosions” since the state’s most active volcano began to really wake up, there is now live webcam footage of the “explosive eruption” at the summit of one volcano.

Hawaii Under Fire

For the last two weeks, Hawaiians have been dealing with the slow crawl of lava from their very active volcanoes, and now the biggest one of all, the Kilauea volcano, shot a new stream of ash 30,000 feet into the air at 5am local time.

The National Weather Services has issued an advisory against the falling ash that will remain in effect until Friday morning. With the ash and the wind, driving conditions are unsafe.

Some residents reportedly slept through the blast, only finding out that their neighborhood fire-spewing hole in the ground was active due to phone alerts.

According to John Tarson, who runs Epic Lava, a tour company:

“What I noticed is the plume was just rising straight into the air, and it was not tipping in any direction. We’ve been expecting this, and a lot of people are going to see it and get excited and scared”

Due to the elevated levels of sulfur dioxide in the air, schools have also been closing their doors and encouraging students to stay at home.

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You can watch the webcam here:

Kīlauea Volcano

Kīlauea is located on the biggest island in the Hawaiian chain, and has been erupting almost constantly since 1983. The volcano is one of the most active in the chain, and with its rock estimated to be between 300,000 and 600,000 years old, the volcano is still young enough to keep producing lava.

In 1990, the nearby town of Kalapana was destroyed by the volcano.

In the last few weeks, starting on May 3rd, the volcano’s activity has been accompanied by an earthquake and thousands of residents near the base of the volcano have been evacuated. Yesterday, during an eruption, the volcano threw ash 12,000 into the air.

Located in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed to visitors since May 11th due to the risky behavior of the feature landmark, officials are saying that as long as people stay away from the park they should be safe.

History of the Kīlauea Volcano

The first written record of activity from the volcano has been dated to the early 1820s, with an eruption documented in 1823. Native Hawaiians had lived on the island chain for the previous 1,500 years but their oral history was not steady in its data on the eruptions.

While Europeans had not arrived, there is information on an eruption in 1790 that killed important local politicians and warriors.

The volcano would go quiet for a decade or two at a time, with more activity between 1918 and 1934.

Eruptions started against in 1952 and has continued to challenge local developments and roadways.

A few years ago, we declared that Kīlauea was one of the top ten tourist destinations in the United States.

Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago. It is a very low, flat shield volcano, vastly different in profile from the high, sharply sloping peaks of stratovolcanoes. Kilauea is one of the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists.

In 1969, an eruption caused a 1,000 foot high lava fountain to erupt.

Missile Strike False Alarm

With active volcanoes, Hawaiians should be able to rely on the emergency systems set in place to warn them of danger. In January of this year, the Hawaiian Emergency Alert System sent out a false warning via text message, telling residents on their mobile phones, televisions and radios that there was a ballistic missile alert.

The alert, sent on the morning of January 13th, told residents to find shelter and that the message is “not a drill.”

In the 38 minutes between the false alarm’s 8:07am message and its retraction, Hawaiians scrambled into storm drains, basements and bath tubs looking for shelter. The Hawaiian government later apologized, blaming the mistake on someone pushing a button during a shift change.

The incident was blamed on an exercise drill where the person who sent the alert did not hear the “exercise” part of the message. The person responsible for hitting the button was never publicly identified and has declined interviews with investigators. According to the FCC’s report, the button-pushing worker was the only one who didn’t realize that it was only a drill — which is a much different story than “a button was pushed by accident.”

Sources: NBC News, USGS Volcanoes

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