Hawaii volcano: Kilauea crater rocked by 5.5 magnitude quake

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava continues to fountain from fissure No. 8 Wednesday in Leilani Estates

HOLLYN JOHNSON Tribune-Herald Lava continues to fountain from fissure No. 8 Wednesday in Leilani Estates

Mount Kilauea's latest eruption began early on Tuesday morning and was so powerful it spewed ash almost a mile into the air and sparked a 5.5 magnitude natural disaster.

Twenty-four vents, or fissures, have opened up in a mostly rural district of the island since May 3, but lava was coming out only from one fissure, scientists said Friday. This activity continues to feed the lava channel flowing northeast before turning westward toward Kapoho where it transforms in a very broad lava flow that by now nearly entirely covered Kapoho and Vacationland and filled up Kapoho Bay. This eruptive activity feeds a channel transporting lava to the east to the ocean entry in the Kapoho Bay area.

Kim said Vacationland, a private development believed to comprise roughly 160 homes, was completely erased, and that at least 330 houses were devoured by lava at Kapoho Beach Lots.

Lava from a fissure near the volcano spewed into Kapoho Bay forcing billowing clouds of steam into the atmosphere.

Since May 3rd, Kilauea's lava, ash and rocks have destroyed about 600 homes, closed major highways and prompted health warnings. Also no other fissures apart from fissure 8 were actively erupting lava in the past few days. A plume of toxic volcanic lava haze, called laze, stretched for miles. The eruption is one of the most destructive in USA history, though amazingly no one has been killed and only one injury has been reported. Lava has since been pouring out of large fissures in the earth and down to the ocean. The crater floor of Pu'u O'o collapsed and the crater now has a funnel shape geometry with a deep cylindrical shaft, filled with rubble, that is about 350 meters (1150 feet) deep.

Satellite images over the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island taken before and after the latest eruption show just how much the environment has changed as a result of the lava.

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