Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Volcanic smog drifts to other Hawaii islands, ash carpets towns

Volcanic smog drifts to other Hawaii islands, ash carpets towns

The alert is the highest caution level for volcanic activity, issued when an eruption is forecast or has begun.

Lava spewing from Hawaii's near-continuously erupting Kilauea volcano has left a trail of devastation in its wake as captured in a series of dramatic before and after satellite photos.

At least 20 fissures have now opened with some emitting risky levels of sulfur dioxide, Hawaii County officials told CNN.

Lava flows have destroyed 37 homes so far and caused the evacuation of at least 2,000 residents.

The Latest on the eruption of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Scientists say that as the lava level continues to drop in the crater, more fissures are likely to open in the ground and have warned of a major volcanic eruption.

Hawaii volcano View of the 17th fissure
EPAResidents described a near-constant roar coming from the massive fissure

The ash isn't toxic but it can irritate the eyes, the nose and airways. Geological Survey said ash coming from a vent near the mountain's crater "has generally increased in intensity". It can make roads slippery and large emissions could cause the failure of electrical power lines, said USGS chemist David Damby.

Dr. Nair says students will still be visiting Hawaii's active volcanoes, but they'll be studying the Kilauea from a distance.

USGS scientists will not monitor the plume from a summit observatory because of fears of falling ash.

There have been no major injuries or deaths reported from the eruption.

Authorities on Tuesday reported a new fissure opened in the adjoining Lanipuna Gardens subdivision, bringing the number of cracks in the ground spitting out lava and toxic gas to almost 20 since the eruption began May 3. A looming menace remains the possibility of an "explosive eruption" of Kilauea, an event last seen in 1924.

The explosive, steam-driven eruptions could drive a 20,000-foot (6,100-meter) ash plume out of the crater, hurl boulders the size of small cars up to half a mile (800 meters) and scatter smaller rocks over 12 miles (19 km), the USGS has warned.

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