Explosive eruptions and noxious gas emissions at Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii this week have prompted scientists to work around the clock to understand what will happen next and how to keep the public out of harm’s way.
Scientists are monitoring gas emissions and seismic activity at Kilauea, which on March 19 experienced its first explosive eruption since 1924. The volcano is also emitting sulfur dioxide at toxic levels.
The National Park Service has closed Crater Rim Drive through the south caldera area until further notice. The U.S. Geological Survey is issuing frequent updates, which can be accessed at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/.
Sulfur dioxide emissions at the volcano’s summit have increased to a rate that is likely to be hazardous for areas downwind of Halema’uma’u crater. Future explosions from Halema’uma’u Crater are possible.
“This historic activity has created new hazards that did not exist before – explosive eruptions as well as toxic sulfur dioxide emissions – in the middle of a national park,” said U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator John Eichelberger. “Our job is to give emergency responders and the civil defense community the very best information we can provide about what the volcano is doing and what it is likely to do in the future.”