Hawaii volcano Kilauea erupts with 9000-meter ash plume

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A scientist, of the U.S. Geological Survey, Michelle Coombs, said in an important press conference, that the activity at the vent can turn out to be and become explosive again. She said the ashfall was localized.

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.

Continuous ash emissions from Halemaumau crater are reaching as high as 12,000 feet.

Residents who live in a nearby town reported light amounts of ash after the eruption.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the state is forming a joint task force that could handle mass evacuations of the Big Island's Puna district if lava from Kilauea volcano covers major roads and isolates the area.

Scientists are warning this could be the first in a string of more violent explosive eruptions, with the next possibly occurring within hours.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials said the caldera - the depression at the center of the volcano - dropped more than three feet (900 cm) overnight, triggering frequent earthquakes that have cracked highways in the area.

"The one this morning is definitely the biggest we've seen so far, just in terms of energy and how high up into the atmosphere it got".

Thermal map showing lava spread
USGSThis thermal map shows lava spread over the lower Pahoa area

The ash was a bit of an irritant, he said, but "not too bad". "I had let my dogs out, and I immediately went out to let them back in".

Thursday's event was, if not the big one, then certainly a big one, researchers said.

Thursday's eruption did not affect the Big Island's two largest airports in Hilo and in Kailua-Kona. She and her husband Edward have an enclosed cement catchment water tank and have already sealed it off. Passenger jets generally cruise at around 30,000 feet, the height of Thursday's plume.

After an eruption from the Kilauea volcano's summit shot ash and smoke 30,000 feet into the air on Thursday, officials handed out nearly 18,000 masks to help residents deal with the fallout. "Protect yourself from ash fallout".

Original: 5:17 a.m.

The mayor of Hawaii said the eruption site and the lava flow are in a very small portion of the island.

The activity at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is getting more interesting and more ominous.

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