June 7, 2009

Kilauea Volcano Sees Increase In Activity

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano seems to be active again, with molten lava moving around 300 feet under the crater's floor.

The growth of the Halemaumau crater corroborates scientists' certainty that the lava is near the summit, said Janet Babb, a geologist and spokeswoman at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Park rangers have started allowing the overlook at the Jaggar Museum to stay open later in the evening to have capacity for the larger numbers of visitors to see the glow.

Even though Kilauea has been active for 25 years, this new activity is emerging at the top of the volcano, not the sea-level side. Although the glow is bright around the crater, scientists remain uncertain if lava will ever erupt, Babb said.

"There's no way to know if that will ever materialize," she said. "It would be grand to see some fountaining here."

The modifications in the crater have not produced any increased safety precautions to visitors or park staff.

Volcanic smog, or vog, usually emits from the volcano, sending the fog of toxic sulfur dioxide around the island. Now and then it has caused sickness, killed crops and school closures.

Measurements indicate that sulfur dioxide emissions are still close to recent levels, Babb noted.


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