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Kilauea volcano eruption is one of the biggest in recent Hawaii history, enough to fill 100,000 pools

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/20/2018 Doyle Rice

That's a lotta lava.

Since the eruption of the Kilauea volcano May 3 on the Big Island, it's belched out about 250 million cubic meters of lava, making it one of the largest eruptions in decades in Hawaii.

"It's nothing like what we've witnessed in recent history," said Wendy Stovall, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. It's topped  big Kilauea eruptions in 1955 and 1960 and is bigger than the Mauna Loa eruption of 1984.

The amount of lava would fill about 100,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Kilauea has erupted continuously since May 3, flinging out lava and ash, destroying 577 homes and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Some good news came out Wednesday: A larger explosion doesn't appear likely anymore. "Right now, we don't anticipate that occurring," Stovall said.

A few weeks ago, scientists were concerned the volcano could really blow its top. A major blast could have sent boulders as big as refrigerators flying through the air and ash plumes soaring as high as 20,000 feet over a 12-mile area, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense.

"We don't see a mechanism for that to happen," Stovall said.

However, the eruption is far from over. 

"We are uncertain how much longer the activity will continue," Stovall said. "We're seeing more of the same types of things we've seen for the past several weeks," such as lava oozing through residential neighborhoods into the ocean.

Another volcanologist, Tracy Gregg of the University at Buffalo, said, "There's no way to know how much longer the eruption will last."

At the Kilauea summit, the Halemaumau crater has doubled in size since May, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The edges have slumped down almost 300 feet, dropping with each earthquake and explosive event. 

“It’s quite dramatic," Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Steve Brantley told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "We’re all astounded by the changes."



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