Hawaii volcano eruption: USGS issues RED WARNING as risks to air travel INCREASE | World | News


Hawaii volcano Mount Kilauea has been threatening local residents with its incessant rivers of lava and volcanic debris since May 3.

Massive plumes of smoke and ash have been repeatedly witnessed rising up from the bubbling Kilauea crater rising concerns about planes passing by the Big Island during the eruption.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) issued a red warning for pilots, suggesting the risk of ashes becoming a threat to air travel has increased.

US Geologic Survey (USGS) volcanologist Michelle Coombs said: “It’s very hazardous for aviation. Yesterday morning we started to see some pretty intense ash emissions from the crater.

“The highest that the cloud of the ash reached was about 12,000 feet above sea level and winds were pushing that ash down to the southwest over the Kay desert area.

“Because of that activity at the crater – that went on for a few hours, HVO raised the aviation colour code from orange to red.”

Ms Coombs explained that while a code red does not indicate a new Kilauea eruption is imminent it warns pilots to be careful due to large amounts of ash in the air.

She continued: “What aviation colour code to red is just an indication to the aviation community that there are significant amounts of ash from the eruptive activity.

“We’ve had some questions from folks about what code red means. It sounds a little bit alarming, it’s really just to say that we see significant amounts of ash from this ongoing activity and to warn aviators about that ash.”

Volcanic ash is made up of small fragments of glass and pulverised rocks that could undermine the efficiency of jet engines because of their abrasive nature.

The glass contained in the volcanic ash could reach the combustion chamber propelling the engine and melt to produce a molten glass-like substance that potentially could stall planes in mid-air.

Kristi Wallace from the Alaska Volcano Observatory said: “We’re just saying, here is the threat: here’s the ash, here’s where it’s at, here’s how it’s being distributed.”

The HVO also warned that continued volcanic activity could increase “the intensity of ash production” and produce “ballistic projectiles near the vent.”

Around 1,700 people have already been ordered to leave their homes after lava crept into neighbourhoods and deadly volcanic gases belched up through cracks in the earth.

No deaths or major injuries have been reported. At least 35 structures had been destroyed, many of them homes, officials said.

But from 7.30am BST yesterday to 7.30am today, Hawaii was hit by dozens of quakes, ranging in strength from 2.5 magnitude to 3.4 – spurring fears of fresh eruptions. 

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