An early morning eruption at Kilauea Volcano Wednesday was the mountain's FIRST EXPLOSIVE EVENT in Halema`uma`u Crater SINCE 1924. The explosion scattered debris over an area of about 75 acres (30 hectares), covering a portion of Crater Rim Drive and damaging the Halema‘uma‘u overlook. No lava was erupted as part of the explosion, suggesting that the activity was driven by hydrothermal or gas sources. In addition to damaging the overlook, explosive debris covers the trail to the overlook, the Halema‘uma‘u parking area, and the portion of Crater Rim Drive adjacent to the parking area. On Crater Rim Drive the debris was up to 2 centimeters in size, with the size and thickness of debris increasing toward the overlook. The largest observed block ejected during the explosion was about 1 cubic meter (35 cubic feet) and must have been propelled from the vent located more than 70 m (230 feet) below the crater rim. Minutes before the eruption, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recorded a series of seismic events that may have been shallow, high-frequency earthquakes or minor explosions. The main explosion at 2:58 was associated with long period seismicity. Low frequency sound waves were also detected by the University of Hawai`i infrasound laboratory. These signals have persisted through the morning indicating continuing energetic release of gas from the vent in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Sulfur dioxide emissions from the new explosion crater are still elevated, and sounds of rock breaking are frequent. This is the first explosion in Halema`uma`u crater since 1924 and the first eruption of any kind in Kilauea caldera since September 1982. Future explosive activity is possible.
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