Science

NASA shares stunning image of erupting volcano near Hawaii coast

The US space agency NASA has shared an astonishing image of erupting Kilauea Volcano located on the islands of Hawaii. The volcano is erupting a large amount of lava in the East Riff which has also lead to high levels of sulfur dioxide in the region forcing people to evacuate the region.

Scientists used the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite to capture the stunning new fissures. In the first image, the red areas are vegetation, and the black and gray areas are old lava flows. The yellow areas superimposed over the image show hot spots that were detected by ASTER’s thermal infrared bands. These hot spots are the newly formed fissures and new lava flow as of May 6. In the second photo, also acquired on May 6, the long yellow and green streaks are plumes of sulfur dioxide gas.

On April 30, the floor of Kilauea’s crater began to collapse. Earthquakes followed, including one that measured magnitude 6.9, and lava was pushed into new underground areas that eventually broke through the ground in such areas as the Leilani Estates.

Kilauea is the youngest and southeastern-most volcano on the island. Eruptive activity along the East Rift Zone has been continuous since 1983. Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

It is the second youngest product of the Hawaiian hotspot and the current eruptive center of the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain. Because it lacks topographic prominence and its activities historically coincided with those of Mauna Loa, Kīlauea was once thought to be a satellite of its much larger neighbor. Structurally, Kīlauea has a large, fairly recently formed caldera at its summit and two active rift zones, one extending 125 km (78 mi) east and the other 35 km (22 mi) west, as an active fault of unknown depth moving vertically an average of 2 to 20 mm (0.1 to 0.8 in) per year.

Kīlauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983 and has caused considerable property damage, including the destruction of the town of Kalapana in 1990. On May 3, 2018, several lava vents opened in the lower Puna area, downrift from the summit. The new volcanic eruption was accompanied by a strong 6.9 earthquake, and nearly 2,000 residents were evacuated from Leilani Estates. More than 10,000 people were affected. By May 8, 2018 the eruption had destroyed 35 houses in the subdivision.

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