Rocks spew from volcano summit

Imagine all of these volcanoes erupting in unison

The newest eruption follows a damaging natural disaster, unsafe volcanic smog and large lava flows that are all threatening Hawaii's Big Island.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes.

USGS geologists and staff were evacuated from the Kilauea summit shortly before the explosion. One of the latest shots is a view of a "moonscape" with a massive rock in the middle.

Last week, scientists said that if Kilauea's lava lake drains too fast, it could trigger explosions that hurl refrigerator-size boulders into the air.

This eruption is generating an ash plume as high as 25,000 feet.

Ash emissions from the summit at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano decreased, prompting the cancellation Wednesday of an ash fall advisory.

Thursday's eruption lasted only a few minutes, said Coombs who called it "a big event that got people's attention, but did not have widespread impact".

But by 1:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. EDT) reported ashfall was limited to only light, wet deposits about 3-4 miles (5-6 km) northwest of the summit, as rain over the volcano curbed the spread of ash.

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The noxious gas, normally emitted at unsafe levels only from the volcano's Halemaumau Crater, was seeping at a greater rate from the fissures in Leilani Estates, a residential area of about four square miles in the Big Island's Puna district.

Fears are growing that Hawaii's Kilauea is heading for a major volcanic eruption.

Time lapse images taken from a camera at the Gemini Telescope on the Big Island captured the eruption plume just before sunrise.

Hawaii's emergency management agency advised people in the area affected by ash to stay in their homes if possible. "UC Berkeley Volcanologist Stephen Self says that's what the activity on the volcano has been leading up to, red hot lava flowing down out of the crater to an epic meeting with the groundwater below". The lava flow which has traveled almost two miles from the fissure seems to have stopped moving for now, though more lava flows remain possible, and geologists warn that additional fissures could open up at any time.

A new fissure cracked open Thursday on the Island of Hawai'i and others "reactivated" with new flows of oozing black lava, as noxious gas and ash became biggest immediate problem for residents around the Kilauea volcano.

Those areas were evacuated as lava destroyed at least 26 homes and 10 other structures.

Officials have said they didn't expect the explosion to be deadly as long as people remained out of park.

At first look, Kilauea seems to be a part of the bigger volcano Mauna Loa. An eruption in 1924 killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days.

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