Kilauea Volcano Update: Eruption Explosion, Ash Alert

The Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii erupted again early Thursday morning, causing a large ash plume in the sky above the summit, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency.

The agency said that the ash plume would end up covering the surrounding area and that the wind would also likely carry the plume southeast of the volcano's summit. Those areas include the areas of Kau, Puna and Hilo. Computer models of where the ash might fall are available at the United States Geological Survey website.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued an ashfall advisory for Hawaii. "With ash eruptions occurring from Kilauea's summit this week, there is a threat of an even larger steam-driven violent explosion. Such an eruption could happen suddenly and send volcanic ash 20,000 feet into the air, threatening communities for miles," said the NWS.

An ashfall advisory issued Thursday morning by the NWS said the radar estimates measured the plume to be about 30,000 feet. Accumulations were expected to be less than a quarter of an inch in the areas surrounding the summit of the volcano.

The Civil Defense Agency advised those in the area where ash may fall to stay indoors, keep the windows closed and pull over if they're driving when it begins to fall. Once the ash stops falling, those in the area should check the condition of their homes as well as their watchman systems for water.

What kind of volcano is Kilauea?

The Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii is a shield volcano, according to the USGS. This means it's more spread out and covers more land than something like a mountain volcano where lava erupts out of the top. Kilauea has channels that flow underground. The fissures are opening up in communities across the island because the magma flows under the Earth away from the center of the volcano.

A screenshot of the ash plume at the Kīlauea Volcano summit, taken from a Mauna Loa webcam. USGS