Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Belches Another Plume Of Ash

As an explosive eruption on the Kilauea volcano sent another plume of ash high into the air, and as more residents were evacuated from a nearby subdivision, officials at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) warned against toasting marshmallows over the Hawaiian volcano’s vents.

The USGS said early Tuesday an eruption had sent ash 4,500 metres into the air, warning that the ash was drifting northwest and liable to affect anyone in the summit area.

The wind is also carrying thin strands of volcanic glass fibres that could injure eyes and lungs, officials said.

The eruption came hours after Hawaii County officials knocked on doors on several streets in the Leilani Estates subdivision alerting residents to flee fast-moving lava flowing from one of the world’s most active volcanos. Hundreds have left the area since more intense eruptions began on May 3.

Multiple fissures continue to spew hot lava flows, which have blocked roads and damaged dozens of buildings on Hawaii’s Big Island.

One fountain of lava rose more than 60 metres at times on Monday, the USGS said.

Back in Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre on Oahu said a 4.4 magnitude earthquake shook the Hilina region of the volcano, southwest of the estates, on Monday. Officials said it wasn’t strong enough to generate a tsunami.

Lava has oozed over two wells at the Puna geothermal power plant, but county officials said the flow stopped. Officials said there was no release of any dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas after lava crept over the plugged wells.

Residents fear the wells may be explosive. Officials have said the power plant is safe, but lava has never engulfed a geothermal plant anywhere in the world, creating a measure of uncertainty.

As of Friday, lava had destroyed 82 structures, including 37 homes. About 2,000 people have been ordered to leave the area since Kilauea began erupting on May 3.

So far, no deaths have been blamed on the eruption, though a man’s leg was shattered when he was hit by a spatter of super-dense lava.