Kilauea volcano update: Eruption continues as USGS warns of hazardous gas

Kīlauea Volcano: WHIRLWIND near fissure 8

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Kilauea volcano – one of the most active volcanoes on Earth has erupted. The volcano in Hawaii is being closely monitored, and now scientists warn the volcanic gasses produced in the eruption could become a hazard. Here’s the latest on the eruption and the possible dangers it poses.

Hawaii’s youngest volcano, Kilauea, began erupting on Wednesday afternoon, September 29.

Kilauea’s latest eruption is the first in almost a year but it shows no sign of slowing any time soon.

On the morning of October 1 local time, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported the eruption was still active.

USGS said: “As of the morning of October 1, 2021, all lava activity is confined within Halemaʻumaʻu, in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

“Seismicity and volcanic gas emission rates remain elevated.”

They added: “Lava continues to erupt from multiple vents along the floor and western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater.”

But USGS has stressed the lava doesn’t pose a threat to surrounding populated areas.

They said: “Lava continues to erupt from multiple vents on the base and west wall of Halemaʻumaʻu, though the number of active fountaining locations has decreased over the past day.

“The rate of lava lake rise has slowed since the early phase of the eruption.”

Although the lava does not currently pose a threat to those living around the volcano, the gases produced in the eruption are causing concern.

Those who live downwind of Kilauea were warned of possible exposure to sulfur dioxide and other volcanic gases.

Such exposure can irritate the respiratory system.

USGS said: “Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates remain high and were estimated at around 20,000 tonnes per day the morning of September 30, 2021.”

In their hazard analysis, USGS said: “High levels of volcanic gas are the primary hazard of concern, as this hazard can have far-reaching effects downwind.”

They warned the sulphur dioxide (SO2) produced was of particular concern.

They said: “As SO2 is released from the summit, it reacts in the atmosphere to create the visible haze known as vog (volcanic smog) that has been observed downwind of Kilauea.

“Vog creates the potential for airborne health hazards to residents and visitors, damages agricultural crops and other plants, and affects livestock.”

But fortunately, quakes appear to be stable, USGS said: “Seismicity is stable, with few earthquakes and ongoing eruptive tremor.”

The eruption has taken place within the confines of the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park and has not affected any populated areas so far.

The National Park has remained open to visitors keen to get a glimpse of the eruption, albeit from a safe distance.

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