Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms there was a large explosion around 8:30 a.m. in the “overlook crater” within Halema‘umaʻu at the summit of Kilauea volcano, creating an enormous plum of ash.
HVO spokeswoman Janet Babb said preliminary observations show it was not a steam explosion, and there was no water involved. Babb said it was likely a large crater rock wall which collapsed into the lava lake, prompting the explosion.
“When it hit the lava there was a lot of gas released and made a large explosion and set a significant ash plume into the air,” Babb said.
“We’ve seen this throughout this summit eruption,” she added. “Some have been large and some have been small. This one today was the largest we’ve seen.”
The explosion did not result in any additional closures at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park because it is not associated with the water level.
HVO said in a news release earlier this morning that the steady lowering of the lava lake in the crater within Halemaʻumaʻu at the summit of Kilauea has raised the potential for explosive eruptions in the coming weeks.
If the lava column drops to the level of groundwater beneath Kilauea Caldera, influx of water into the conduit could cause steam-driven explosions.
Debris expelled during such explosions could impact the area surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu and the Kilauea summit. HVO said it could not say with certainty that explosive activity will occur, how large the explosions could be, or how long such explosive activity could continue.
Residents near the area are advised to learn about the hazards of ashfall, stay informed of the status of the volcano and area closures, and review family and business emergency plans.