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'Excited and scared': Hawaii volcano spews huge cloud of ash

'Excited and scared': Hawaii volcano spews huge cloud of ash

The volcano has destroyed 37 homes and other structures in a small south-east area of the island and forced around 2,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Steve Gebbie has to wear a face mask every time he comes close to his home on Hawaii's Big Island.

The bill directs the U.S. Geological Survey to unify current volcano monitoring systems - including the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Alaska Volcano Observatory and the Cascades Volcano Observatory - into a single, connected system called the National Volcano Early Warning System. PHOTOS: Take a look at some of the most arresting images from Kilauea volcano eruption Kilauea is also a reminder that there are volcanoes in the Western U.S. and in California.

US Geological Survey geologist Michelle Coombs described the event as "energetic, but short-lived" and said most of the debris ejected from the crater likely fell near the explosion site.

USGS geologists and staff were evacuated from the Kilauea summit shortly before the explosion. "These can be quite impressive, and you certainly don't want to be in the vicinity of these explosions, but they don't have the force to sustain huge eruptions". These steam-driven blasts could send a 20,000-foot ash plume out of the crater, hurling 10-12 ton boulders up to half a mile and scatter pebble-sized rocks over 12 miles, the USGS has said.

Although she could not say with certainty, Coombs said that the event appeared consistent with the dropping lava lake hitting ground water, as geologists have been expecting.

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"I think it's going to be a series of explosions similar to the one that happened this morning, and that's based on what happened in 1924, which is really our only analog", he said of the almost century old event, which lasted 2-1/2 weeks and killed one person who was hit by a "ballistic block".

There are fears that a major eruption at Mount Kilauea is imminent.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes, erupting nearly continuously since 1983.

On Thursday, a 21st fissure also opened in Leilani Estates while other fissures reactivated with lava, the Hawaii Civil Defense said in an alert. New radar measurements estimate the volcanic ash plume to reach 30,000 feet. Hawaii's state volcanologist, Bruce Houghton, says that the current event appears to be a type of complex eruption that occurs only once every 50 to 80 years.

During the day, residents can hear a thick layer of lava crunching through the street as they walk through this neighborhood near the Big Island's eastern edge.

The hope this time, he adds is that the extensive instrumentation on Kilauea and data collected from the latest eruption will allow scientists to develop better markers for predicting when a steam explosion is imminent.


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