U.S. officials on Thursday lowered the alert level for an eruption at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, announcing that lava spewing from one of its craters has slowed.
The volcano began erupting before sunrise on Wednesday, ejecting lava from within the Halemaumau crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Officials have highlighted several safe locations for the thousands expected to congregate in the area to see the majestic scenery.
The Kilauea volcano spewed fountains about 200 feet high during the early stages of Wednesday’s eruption, with the largest lava jets consistently erupting about 50 feet high, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Wednesday that Kilauea’s alert level has been raised to “alert” red while officials assess the danger from an eruption because of lava flowing on the surface of the crater floor.
Officials on Thursday downgraded the alert level to “monitoring”, saying eruptive activity was limited to the Halemaumau crater. The U.S. Geological Survey said in a status report on Thursday that the height of the lava fountain had decreased since the eruption began, “probably due to gas loss,” but it was still up to about 10 meters (about 33 feet) high. Said to be in height.
The Hawaii Volcano Observatory notes that volcanic gas emissions in the area are increasing, and that the slope of the summit—the slope of the ground due to the amount of magma in the reservoir below the summit—continues to shrink over the past 24 hours. bottom. .
Kilauea’s eruption was confined to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and officials said there were no signs that population centers were being threatened.
The last few eruptions on Kilauea’s summit have “started violently and diminished over time,” and the latest eruption appears to follow a similar pattern, USGS geologist Katie Mulliken told CNN. .
Janice Way/National Park Service/AP
Lava erupts from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii on Wednesday.
Thousands of people who were planning to visit the national park to see Kilauea were asked to stay on marked trails and lookouts, stay away from restricted areas, and that the eruption was considered a sacred event. I was warned not to forget that
“The sight of an active lava lake being dragged into a boiling fountain is an unforgettable sight,” said an official at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. “An eruption is an exciting experience, but keep in mind that you are observing a sacred event.”
According to the National Park Service, Native Hawaiian traditions say the eruption has incredible spiritual significance, and Kilauea’s summit is a sacred place believed to be the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano god.
According to the Crater Rim Trail, those venturing out to see the dazzling lava display first-hand are located about 800 meters from the Overlook near Keanakakoi Crater and two miles from Kupinai Pali, one mile from Wekahuna. You can see it from the place. NPS.
Park officials said the lava could be visible from many areas and vantage points around Kaluappere, but warned that conditions could change at any time due to eruptive activity and weather conditions.
For those who want to enjoy the spectacle from home, the USGS offers a live stream of the eruption showing real-time footage of the lava fountain.
U.S. Geological Survey/AP
An eruption can be seen at the top of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Wednesday.
The National Park Service said high levels of volcanic gases were the main concern, adding that “this hazard could have widespread impacts downwind.”
“During Kilauea volcano eruptions, large amounts of volcanic gases, primarily water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), are continuously released,” the NPS said on its website.
The volcanic smog observed downwind of Kilauea could pose an airborne health hazard to residents and visitors, park officials added.
Other hazards include long, thin strands of volcanic glass known as Pele’s hair and other volcanic fragments from lava fountains that could fall downwind of the fissure crater, officials added.
The USGS advised residents to minimize exposure to these volcanic particles, which can cause skin and eye irritation.
The Kilauea eruption last erupted in January and showed signs of “rising unrest” in May. The volcano had stopped erupting in December for the first time since September 2021.
Lava from the 2021 eruption has settled in the Kilauea summit crater, but the previous eruption in 2018 was one of the most devastating eruptions in recent Hawaiian history, destroying hundreds of homes and displacing the surrounding area. was forced to