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NASA Captures Images Of Kilauea Volcano Spewing Gas And Lava In Hawaii

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NASA was able to capture a huge plume of ash erupting from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. Scientists used satellite imagery to be able to capture the eruption as it happened.  ( NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team )

NASA used satellite imagery to capture fissures caused by the impending eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. The images were taken on the East Rift Zone of the volcano, showing the fissures oozing lava and gas.

Fissures caused by the volcano caused evacuations throughout the area.

Satellite Images Of Kilauea Volcano Eruption

Satellite images of the Kilauea Volcano were captured using the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) which is in onboard NASA's Terra satellite.

Two separate images of the East Rift Zone of the Kilauea volcano were taken. In the first image, the red area represents vegetation while the black and gray areas are old lava flows. Yellow areas show new hot spots that were formed by lava flows on Sunday, May 6. These yellow areas were superimposed as captured by ASTER's thermal infrared bands.

The second image captured of the volcano shows plumes of sulfur dioxide gas that it's releasing into the atmosphere. In the photo, the plumes appear as yellow and green streaks across the satellite image.

If the volcano keeps this up, how long will it be before it erupts?

Scientists Warn Of Impending Eruption

Geologists warn of the possibility that if Kilauea keeps releasing toxic gas and lava, it could erupt within the coming weeks.

The U.S. Geological Survey says that a sudden eruption could happen when the lava flows increase from its crater down the face and as magma flows below the water table. This could create steam pressure that would cause the volcano to explode. There is also the possibility for the volcano to eject ballistic rocks of lava which are several feet in size.

Kilauea's crater began to collapse on April 30. This was followed by an earthquake that caused lava to be pushed into new underground areas and led it to break through the ground near a residential area. Several small earthquakes followed the initial activity of the volcano.

There have been 15 surface cracks opened by the volcano. A new fissure appeared in Lanipuna Gardens on Wednesday, May 9. Thousands of people have evacuated since the volcanic activity began.

While a volcanic eruption can be dangerous enough, there is also a chance for it to result in acid rain. The sulfur oxide being released by the volcano could mix with oxygen, water vapor, and sunlight to form sulfuric acid. As the water vapor passes through the sulfuric acid in the air, acid rain is formed. 

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