Volcano Watch: Kilauea’s calm eruptions will turn violent

Posted on December 7, 2011

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Kilauea, the sleepy Hawaiian volcano famed for its quiet lava flows, could awaken into violent explosive eruptions at any time, geologists on the Big Island warn.

Researchers at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – where 5,000 mainland visitors a day come to see the lava – have uncovered detailed evidence that during three long periods over the past 2,500 years, the summit of the shaking mountain has blasted out fiery rocks, steam and carbon dioxide again and again.

It’s bound to happen again, but the scientists say they can’t predict when.

Donald Swanson of the U.S. Geological Survey and director of the observatory, along with his colleagues, are reporting on their research into the volcano’s intermittent activity this week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

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