Scientists had captured stunning images of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii when it started erupting ash and lava. They used ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer), which is on the Terra satellite to monitor fissures of the volcano.
Researchers discovered yellow areas, showing that there are new hot spots where fissures formed since 6 May. A few days before, on 30 April, Kilauea’s floor started to collapse. Then earthquakes began to follow; one even had the magnitude of 6.9. Then lava was pushed in the underground areas, and it broke through the ground, reaching the surface in different areas, one of them being Leilani Estates.
On 3 May, Kilauea volcano erupted again, forcing thousands of residents in the Leilani Estates to evacuate their homes. Some of the properties were destroyed.
When NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the island on 6 May, the instrument on it called Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) captured an image on the island. The camera has nine angles, capturing more of the volcano’s eruptions.
Calculating The Volcano’s Plume
Scientists use the information from these images to calculate the top of the plume and how it decreases as it travels to south and west regions. The height of the plume is low, meaning that there are ash and sulfur dioxide near the ground. These can be a threat to the people that live downwind of the eruption.
However, according to the State of Hawaii Department of Health, after operating a test, they said that the air quality is ‘moderate,’ as ash only remains at the ground level.
Kilauea is among the most active volcanoes in the world, being continuously active since 1983. Over time, it has caused a lot of property damage. In 1990, it destroyed the town of Kalapana. This spring’s eruptions have forced over 2,000 people to evacuate Leilani Estates, affected other 10,000 people. Until 8 May, the eruptions have destroyed 35 houses.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.