Hawaii volcano eruption: Residents warned about sulfur dioxide exposure

Recent earthquakes as of 1:28 p.m. Tuesday

Recent earthquakes as of 1:28 p.m. Tuesday

Two shelters have been opened for residents.

Magma found its way to the surface Thursday through cracks in the road that initially drew curiosity, and later worry, as it began to release steam and the smell of sulfur.

The volcano, one of five on the island, began erupting on Thursday (local time) after a series of earthquakes over the past week, the US Geological Survey reported on its website.

Keala Noel, 64, also from Leilani Estates, said she didn't feel the lava was directly threatening them, but came to the shelter at 3 a.m. on Friday because of the sulphur.

Since Monday, hundreds of earthquakes - a lot of them around 2.0 magnitude - have been recorded in the area.

Officials had been telling residents to stay alert, since hundreds of smaller earthquakes have rattled the area over the course of a few days starting at the end of April.

All of Hawaii is a tourist destination, but this particular eruption wasn't in an area where most tourists go. "And then every now and then, you'll get just a heavy jolt".

A 5.0-magnitude natural disaster on Thursday morning south of the cone triggered rockfalls and potential additional collapse of the crater, USGS said.

Ranson Yoneda, the recreation director for a Pahoa community center, was readying the gymnasium for evacuees after it was selected as a Red Cross evacuation center.

County, state and federal officials had been warning residents all week that they should be prepared to evacuate because an eruption would give little warning.

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The agency said those downwind of the dissipating plume "may experience a dusting of ash", warning of "potentially lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide gas" in the zone as well as methane blasts that could propel large rocks and debris in adjacent areas.

Kiluaea has actually been erupting regularly since 1983, and its lava flows are one of the island's biggest tourist attractions.

Overnight into Wednesday, quakes continued to shake Puna as seismic activity appeared to be moving eastward toward Kapoho.

But this time, local experts are concerned where a large lava flow might head. The school is slated to remain closed Thursday, officials said.

USGS geologist Janet Babb said the magma crossed under Highway 130, which leads to a popular volcano access point, on Tuesday night.

Amid the quakes, scientists have installed additional Global Positioning System monitoring equipment and deployed crews to put in even more monitoring tools.

The Kilauea volcano has been erupting almost continuously for more than three decades. "And so we are watching that very, very closely".

The eruption affected Leilani Estates, a subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. That eruption lasted about three months and covered about 3,900 acres of land with lava.

Effective immediately, the DLNR Division of State Parks has closed its Lava Tree State Monument and Mackenzie State Recreation Area until further notice.

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