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Before-and-after satellite images show major changes at Kilauea’s summit, scientists say

  • COURTESY USGS

    These radar amplitude images were acquired by the Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-SkyMed satellite system and show changes to the caldera area of Kilauea volcano between May 5 and May 17, geologists say.

The U.S. Geological Survey today release comparison radar images of the summit of Kilauea volcano that shows drastic changes since the latest eruption activity began on May 3.

The USGS said thee radar amplitude images were acquired by the Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-SkyMed satellite and show changes to the caldera area of Kilauea Volcano from May 5 and Thursday at 6:12 a.m., about two hours after a large, but short-lived explosive eruption that sent ash and smoke about 30,000 feet into the atmosphere.

USGS scientists say the before-and-after images show major changes at the summit, including:

>> A darkening of the terrain south of Halemaumau Crater which may reflect accumulation of ash over the 12-day period.

>> An enlargement of the summit eruptive vent on the floor of Halemaumau, from about 12 acres on May 5 to about 34 acres on May 17.

>> The development of a small depression of about 15 acres n the east rim of Halemaumau that reflects slumping of a portion of the rim toward the growing collapse pit on the crater floor.

Geologists have warned that more, and potentially larger, explosive eruptions are possible as the crater’s lava lake drops below the water table and the crater walls collapse. They have said steam-driven explosions can hurl debris and rocks up to 12 miles from the summit, and ash clouds high into the atmosphere.

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>> Before-and-after satellite images show major changes at Kilauea’s summit, scientists say
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>> Lava leaves Leilani Estates looking like a ghost town
>> Video: Hawaii island resident Linda Ugalde talks about Kilauea’s May 17 eruption
>> Live webcam atop Halemaumau at Kilauea
>> Photos: Satellite before-and-after images show Kilauea’s devastation
>> Photos: Ash plume rises from Halemaumau, May 15

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