5.0 magnitude natural disaster strikes Hawaii, stirs fear of volcanic eruption

COURTESY HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY           A view of the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kilauea on Monday

COURTESY HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY A view of the lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u at the summit of Kilauea on Monday

Most of Kilauea's activity has been nonexplosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and 10-ton rocks into the sky, leaving one man dead.

The U.S. Geological Survey has upgraded the size of the 10:30 a.m. natural disaster on Kilauea volcano to 5.0 magnitude.

The 5.0-magnitude quake is indicated by the largest red dot.

They also added that the quake magnitude of 2.0 was recorded.

The County will keep the community informed about the situation, and stands ready to ensure the safety and security of its residents, he said.

"It appears that ground shaking from the natural disaster caused rockfalls in the Puu Oo crater on Kilauea Volcano's East Rift Zone, which resulted in a short-lived plume of reddish ash rising above the cone", said Tina Neal, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge.

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, no tsunami was generated by the quake.

"The good news is that as they flew down the East Rift Zone they didn't see any ground cracks or steaming that would suggest that the magma was coming near the surface", Babb said.

Janet Babb, a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist, said residents in the area should remain vigilant, as the seismic activity means "lava could break to the surface, and it could do so fairly quickly". The plume lofted skyward and is dissipating as it drifts southwest.

No other changes at Kīlauea have been observed, but HVO scientists are closely monitoring the data.

According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, Pahoa-Pohoiki Road between Highway 132 (Kapoho Road) and Leilani Avenue is closed in both directions due to road damage. The crater collapse and earthquakes are "associated with the continued intrusion of magma into the East Rift Zone to locations east of Highway 130".

UPDATE: 11:13 a.m.

In response to this, as a precautionary measure, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency shut down the area for visitors Tuesday and forbid tour companies from taking people into the region.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that the natural disaster was not large enough to cause a tsunami for the island of Hawai'i. Roads were closed for weeks in the area. Scientists don't know if decreased seismic activity is an indication that the event is over or if it's just stalled and could pick back up. The quakes, which hit in recent days, indicate an eruption could be imminent.

Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno also released a statement saying, "Should an eruption occur, residents along the East Rift Zone may have little warning".

Crews are using helicopters today to observe the area and are checking seismometers and global positioning system receivers. Officials also reported cracks have formed within Leilani Estates. (EPA/Bruce Omori) A half-mile long fissure ejects steam resulting from the movement of magma beneath Kilauea's east rift zone on May 1.

No. At this point, an eruption is possible and officials are characterizing an outbreak as a potential threat.

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