Explosive eruptions are changing the face of Kilauea's summit crater

KILAUEA VOLCANO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The vent inside Kilauea's summit crater has expanded by 10 times in a matter of a month, experts with the U.S. Geological Survey said.

An unmanned aerial vehicle flight revealed the original 12-acre vent in the Halemaumau Crater has made a massive expansion.

It's grown to 120 acres.

This was due to the collapse of the Halemaumau Crater floor, the enlargement of the crater itself and ongoing explosive eruptions. The area of the collapse is more than half of the original crater.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has seen countless smaller explosions and several larger explosions since the middle of May. The larger ones have created ash plumes as high as 30,000 feet.

The floor of the 120-acre vent is now filled with the collapsed walls of the surrounding crater.

So with all this rubble inside of the vent, could this stop the explosions?

Experts aren't sure.

Kyle Anderson, with USGS, said new explosions could blast through the rubble in the vent, creating an even larger explosion.

"It is also possible that the vent could become permanently blocked, ending the explosions entirely," he said.

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