When most people look at volcanoes, they probably think they want to see them erupt. Until they actually do. Scientists are keeping an eye on heightened activity at Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii today following a fissure over the weekend that sent lava 65 feet into the air.
Even though Kilauea has been in constant eruption for nearly 30 years, the activity over the weekend indicates new episodes in the eruptions and asks more questions than it answers, according to the U.S. Geological Society (USGS).
Park rangers are cautioning visitors to keep their distance from the volcano, although at this point, no homes have been threatened and no people have been injured.
Reuters is reporting that on Saturday, one of the volcano’s crater floors, named Pu’u ‘O’o, collapsed 370 feet, which was accompanied by 150 small earthquakes, all confined to the volcanic area. On the volcano’s eastern side, a 1605-foot-long fissure in the ground opened. And another crater called Napau began erupting.
Kilauea is one of five shield volcanoes that forms the island of Hawaii, and it’s name means “spewing” or “spreading.” It’s one of the most active and most dangerous volcanoes on the planet. It’s also the most visited attractions in Hawaii, and the most visited volcano in the world.
Areas around the newly opened vent could erupt or collapse without warning, scientists cautioned. Also a threat is the potentially lethal concentrations of sulfer dioxide gas in the area. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has closed Chain of Craters Road and all east rift zone and coastal trails and Kulanaokuaiki campground is also closed at present.
Currently visitors in the area can safely observe the eruptions from about 1.5 miles away.