Kīlauea Summit Ash Hazard
Kīlauea Volcano’s summit vent within Halema'uma'u sporadically generates volcanic ash as the vent walls collapse into the receding lava lake. Rockfalls from the vent walls cause gas explosions that have produced numerous ash plumes since 2008 (when the vent first opened). As the summit lava lake continues to drop, there is also the imminent possibility that magma will interact with the water table, potentially creating phreatic (steam) explosions. These explosions could produce substantial volcanic ash plumes, that would be larger than those generated by gas explosions. The areas directly surrounding Kīlauea Volcano’s summit are most likely to be affected by these phreatic (steam) explosions. For more information, please see this video of a USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory presentation from May 9th at the Kīlauea Visitor Center.
Driving in ash: Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves. Ash can also make roads slippery so reduce your speed.
Reduce your exposure:
- Shelter indoors: Inhalation of volcanic ash can be a nuisance and cause discomfort, and may have more serious health consequences for some people.The most effective way to reduce exposure, especially for people with particular susceptibilities (e.g., children and infants, older people and those with existing respiratory (lung) or cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) disease) is to shelter somewhere which is not ashy, ideally inside a building where you can stay indoors for some time, if necessary. Where possible, close doors and windows and seal large gaps.
- Respiratory protection: If you cannot remove yourself from the ash, you may wish to use some sort of respiratory protection (e.g., facemask), or may be advised to do so by local agencies. The most effective respiratory protection for adults is to wear a well-fitting, industry-certified particle facemask such as an N95 mask. Masks are not usually designed to fit children’s faces. Exposure for children and infants should be reduced by staying in a non-ashy (indoor) environment whenever possible. Please see document: How to fit a facemask, and protect yourself from ash, from the County of Hawai'i.
- Remember your pets: Pets and companion animals can also be affected by volcanic ash. Keep your animals inside during ashfall events and clean-up activities. If this is not possible, relocate pets to a garage, carport, or under some type of cover to protect them from falling ash.
Seek advice from a health professional: If you are concerned about your health, take advice from a health professional. See http://www.ivhhn.org/ash-protection for further information on how to protect yourself from breathing ash.
Updated: 23 May 2018