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Volcano Shoots Ash Cloud Over Hawaii's Big Island

Volcano Shoots Ash Cloud Over Hawaii's Big Island

"It's a real dynamic situation up there", Coombs told reporters Thursday.

Poland said ash accumulations are minimal and that trace amounts were expected near the volcano and on a nearby town, named Volcano. Epic Lava tour operator John Tarson is an early-riser and said he only learned about the eruption because he received an alert on his phone.

Scientists with the USGS have not yet figured out the cause of explosions like the one that happened Thursday morning. But it was raining too hard for them to see much.

"People need to stay inside until the winds shift and the ash has settled", he said.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige complimented the response of residents and the pre-explosion work done by authorities. "I hope the House of Representatives will move quickly to approve this timely legislation so that we can ensure the U.S. Geological Survey has the resources it needs to strengthen our monitoring, warning, and response capabilities".

USGS geologists and staff were evacuated from the Kilauea summit shortly before the explosion. The strongest quake in the area was a magnitude 4.4, and dozens more have been upwards of magnitude 3.

"This morning dense ballistic blocks up to 60 cm (2 feet) across were found in the parking lot a few hundred yards from Halemaumau", USGS wrote in an advisory on Wednesday.

Geologists had warned explosive eruptions could begin once Kilauea's falling lava lake descended below the water table, allowing water to run on to the top of the lava column and create a steam-driven blasts.

The crater sits within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11.

Cruise lines have been getting questions about Hawaii with the intensive news coverage of two weeks of explosions from the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island. Due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels in the area, local schools are also closed, Hawaii County Civil Defense said.

Emissions at Halemaumau Crater have been high for days. It looked like it was a steam and ash plume.

Linda Ugalde, a 20-year resident of Volcano, said she heard and felt nothing, but stepped outside of her home at the Volcano Golf Course subdivision about 10 minutes after the alert to find a film of dark gray ash coating the railing on her lanai and the plants in her garden and yard. In Pahala, residents reported heavy vog and significant ashfall.

"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".

That raises the risk for an explosion at the summit.

Scientist say they're using the 1924 event as something of a baseline, using it to determine how long this volcanic event might last and how strong eruptions could be.

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