The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the explosion occurred at 3.15pm British Standard Time (BST), 4.15am Hawaii Standard Time (HST) at the Overlook vent within the Halemaumau crater at Kilauea’s summit.

A spokesman added: “Continued emissions from the crater are reaching as high as 12,000 ft. 

“At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent.

“The ashcloud is drifting downwind to the northeast.

Kilauea volcano

Volcanic ash from Kilauea is sent high into the sky above Hawaii

“Ashfall has been reported in Volcanoes National Park, and may occur further downwind. 

“Ballistic projectiles may be produced should steam-driven explosions occur. 

“Impacts will be limited to an area around Halemaumau. 

“Vog or volcanic air pollution produced by volcanic gas has been reported in Pahala.”

Volcano map

A map showing the latest flow of lava

Yesterday Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) announced a code RED aviation warning to indicate significant ash emission hazardous to aircraft.

In addition, ballistic blocks up to 60 cm (2 feet) across were found in aparking lot a few hundred yards from Halemaumau.

A spokesman said they reflected “the most energetic explosions yet observed” and could reflect the onset of steam-driven explosive activity. 

The volcano, on Hawaii’s Big Island, has been erupting since May 3.

At least 36 buildings have been destroyed as a result, with roughly 2,000 evacuations.

In addition, warnings have been issued about the dangers posed by noxious vog vapours.

These which occur when sulphur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight.

Vog warnings are issued periodically, while Hawaiians are also advised to avoid excessive exposure to ash, which is an eye and respiratory irritant. 

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