Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano “paused” after erupting in remote part of national park


Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted early Monday morning, but officials said the eruption on the state’s Big Island didn’t pose an immediate threat to human life or critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory warned after 2 a.m. HST of the potential for volcanic ash to shoot into the atmosphere, which can damage planes. About six hours later, just before 8:30 a.m., the observatory said the eruption posed less of a threat, with minor or no ash emissions expected.

The eruption was happening in a remote location of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and was “low in eruptive volume,” the observatory said. Gas emissions and rock fragments ejected from the volcano into the air, known as tephra, were the primary hazards from the eruption, the observatory said.

A few hours later, another observatory said the eruption had “paused”:

The USGS observatory said Monday’s activity was limited to the area around Kilauea’s summit and the southern part of its caldera, the term for the large bowl-shaped depressions that form on volcanoes. According to the agency, the eruption started around 12:30 a.m. about 2.5 miles southwest of the caldera.

A glow seen in webcam images indicated lava was erupting from fissures in the area, the observatory said. Later, in the early morning light, the U.S. Geological Survey captured an aerial image of lava shooting up from the fissures. 

Eruptions release high amounts of volcanic gas, which includes sulfur dioxide. The gas reacts with the atmosphere to create volcanic smog, known as vog, which can cause airborne health hazards for people and damage plants, according to the observatory.

An aerial image shows Kilauea volcano erupting in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, June 3, 2024.
An aerial image shows Kilauea volcano erupting in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, June 3, 2024.

U.S. Geological Survey

The last eruption on Kilauea was in September 2023 and lasted for a week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There hasn’t been an eruption in the area of Monday’s activity in nearly 50 years. The December 1974 eruption lasted about six hours, the observatory said. It wasn’t immediately possible for the agency to say how long Monday’s eruption would last.

The eruption was preceded by an increase in seismic activity at Kilauea’s summit Sunday, an indication that magma was moving below the surface, according to the observatory.

In one eight-hour period, there were approximately 250 earthquakes beneath Kilauea’s summit region, according to the observatory. The most powerful quake was magnitude 4.1 on Sunday night.

The plume from Kilauea volcano's eruption is seen during the early morning hours of June 3, 2024.
The plume from Kilauea volcano’s eruption is seen during the early morning hours of June 3, 2024.

U.S. Geological Survey image by D.A. Phillips

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