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Fire in the hole

Hawaii, USA
Volcano blast spews grit over 19 miles
Photographer and national park volunteer Charlene Meyers took this 72-second time exposure Tuesday night of the glowing spot in Halemaumau Crater. Five hours later a natural explosion tore the red spot apart.

"We are still gathering details and trying to deduce the exact nature of the explosion," the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said concerning Wednesday morning's explosive event at Kilauea Volcano. One idea is the "throat-clearing hypothesis" - that the vent system plugged up, then blasted the vent tube open. A coating of fine white grit, probably from the explosion, was found on cars in Pahala, 19 miles to the southwest. A boulder weighing 2.7 tons was among the material blown out of Halemaumau Crater. Sulfur dioxide gas continues to gush from the former site of the red hotspot. A state air-monitoring station at Pahala recorded sulfur dioxide levels on Wednesday at nearly 0.15 parts per million, exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's limit of 0.14 parts per million during a 24-hour period.

KENYA & TANZANIA BORDER - In the past the community living at the foot of Oldonyo Lengai defied government orders to evacuate after the mountain erupted. But nine months after it continued to emit smoke into the sky and spew molten rocks on its slopes, many of the defiant people are now moving out without being asked to. Those who have fled include villagers who had lived around Oldonyo Lengai for many years. They are reported to have moved with their livestock. The volcano has not stopped spewing smoke since last July. The revered mountain in the bed of the Great Rift Valley “has not behaved the way it used to. This is the first time for many years that we have seen the mountain spewing ash and lava continuously for such long time.” The eruption of the mountain is believed to have been triggered by a series of earthquakes that hit northern Tanzanian and parts of Kenya. The displacement due to volcanic eruption has come at a particularly unfavourable time. Oldonyo Lengai area and the entire Maasailand is reeling under a prolonged dry spell. Just days after the government issued an alert last year, a tour guide who was taking tourists to the top of the mountain was severely burnt by the hot magma. A few weeks later, it was the turn of the pastoralists. Their livestock were affected by volcanic ash and dust. Some of the animals are reported to have fallen sick while others died. For the pastoralists, that was enough to get them to move out of the area in search of greener pastures for their animals. As if that was not enough, towards the end of last year there were reports of people suffering from the adverse effects of volcanic ash and who spent many sleepless nights, thanks to a series of earth tremors. The 2,951-metre high mountain, one of the highest in Tanzania, simply refused to stop emitting smoke and lava — a phenomenon RARELY experienced before. The last time it did so was in 1966 and 1967 but then it lasted for only six months. “Experts must establish why the mountain behaved this way unlike in the past.” Image Above: Mt Oldonyo Lengai emits smoke and lava in these file pictures

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