Kilauea Volcano Erupts on Hawaii's Big Island: 'Fallout Is Likely,' Officials Say

The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has erupted for the second time in two and a half years.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported the news of the eruption late Sunday night, tweeting that it had taken place around 9:30 p.m. local time and, about an hour later, reporting a "magnitude-4.4 earthquake on Kīlauea Volcano's south flank."

"The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports an eruption at the Halemaumau Crater of the Kilauea Volcano," the County of Hawaii Civil Defense tweeted on Monday morning. "Trade winds will push any embedded ash toward the Southwest."

"Fallout is likely in the Kau District in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View," the tweet continued. "Stay indoors to avoid [exposure]."

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The USGS have shared several photos and videos of the eruption to their Twitter feed since it commenced hours ago, including a snapshot that showed "lava being cascaded into the summit water lake, boiling off the water and forming a new lava lake."

"The northern fissure, pictured, was producing the tallest lava fountain at roughly 50 m (165 ft), and all lava was contained within Halema'uma'u crater in Kīlauea caldera," they continued.

In reply to one user who asked, "When was the last eruption inside the main crater?", the USGS responded, "There was an active lava lake within the crater during 2008-2018. It drained in response to the large lower East Rift Zone eruption in 2018. The last time there was an eruption like this one, with summit fissures, might have been 1982."

On top of the 4.4-magnitude earthquake, the USGS reported that several smaller earthquakes (with at least seven ranging from 2.5 to 2.7 magnitude) have occurred over the past few hours.

The latest eruption comes just over two and a half years after Kilauea last erupted. The 2018 incident came as hundreds of earthquakes rattled the area for days, with magnitudes measuring 5.0 or higher, according to the Associated Press. The quakes were triggered after the Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse.

"The fissures are deadly, very deadly. We're currently in a condition red because of the increased ash in the area," Alan Richmond, spokesman for the Hawaii Police Department, told PEOPLE in May 2018. "We've had no injuries which is the good news."

"The danger is that there will be rocks and debris falling further down into the crater and when the lava hits the water table, there's an explosion," Richmond added at the time. "Everybody is on standby. It's a dicey situation and no one knows how long it will last and how it will end, just dealing with Mother Nature."

As of May 16 2018, over 1,500 Hawaii residents were ordered to evacuate their homes after the volcano's eruption that month. The resulting lava flowed over a span of four months, destroying more than 700 homes.

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