Hawaii asks Trump to declare state of disaster for volcano eruption

The Turrialba volcano spews smoke and ash in May 2016 in Cartago Costa Rica. Experts say it is the strongest eruption from the volcano in the past six years

Toxic steam of lava was released across Hawaii's Big Island.

Such blasts would likely also eject plumes of volcanic ash that could be carried farther downwind into neighboring communities, creating a nuisance and potential respiratory irritant, but not a life-threatening hazard, officials said.

A lava lake at the summit is draining inside the volcano, with the magma running underground, and scientists believe it could burst to the surface producing hotter, faster-moving lava. As that magma flows from the chamber and out of the fissures on the volcano's flanks, the lava level in the center crater falls. If the lava drops below the water table, the encroaching water would turn to steam, building up pressure beneath the plug of fallen rocks and debris.

That explosion killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days. Experts said an explosion wouldn't be deadly as long as people steer clear of areas immediately near the volcano. "That's what's happening at the moment but these are just fairly small eruptions". It threw boulders as heavy as 12½ tonnes into the sky. The lava then forced its way back to the surface through large cracks, or fissures, that opened at ground level in a residential area miles (km) away.

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Because of the threat, Volcanoes National Park will be closed Friday.

Over the past week, the Big Island has experienced more than 600 earthquakes - a sign that something is occurring deep beneath the volcano.

"We know the volcano is capable of doing this", Mandeville said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1925, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years.

"We know the volcano is capable of doing this", Mandeville said, referring in part to steam-driven explosions that occurred at Kilauea in 1924 after a lava lake drained at Halema'uma'u crater.

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If volcanologists can better understand Kilauea and underlying reasons for its seemingly odd behaviour, Johnson said it could help them better understand other volcanoes.

The ground deformation was being caused by magma moving beneath the surface.

High levels of acidic particles in vog "can induce asthma attacks, especially in adolescents, and can also impede the ability of the upper respiratory tract to remove other potentially harmful particles", the USGS says.

There are also further potential risks where lava has been erupting 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of the crater in Leilani Estates.

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