Just as scientists predicted, An explosive eruption from Kilauea's summit this morning (5/17) sent a plume of ash 30,000 feet in the air and scientists are warning residents that ash emissions will cover a large part of the big island.
Geologists say that quakes are caused by ongoing deflation at the summit causing the lava lake to decline and create the explosive eruption that happened at 4:15 this morning.
An explosive eruption is a steam-driven eruption that occurs when the level of magma drops below the level of the water table and then heated by magma, lava, hot rock and volcanic deposits. The intense heat of the material may cause the water to boil and flash to steam, which can generate an explosion of steam, water, ash, blocks and bombs.
Scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say that residents are reporting frequent shaking which have caused local roads to crack and cause structural damage to nearby buildings. The explosion has also hurled rocks up to two feet wide out of the crater which have landed in nearby parking lots.
The "ballistic" rocks "reflect the most energetic explosions yet observed and could relfec the onset of steam-driven explosive activity." Officials say that more powerful explosions can be expected as lava levels continue to decline.
Kilauea eruption photos: