Kilauea volcano: Soar over active summit in awe-inspiring drone footage

ByDanny Clemens via WABC logo
Saturday, May 26, 2018
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United States Geological Survey scientists flew a drone over the active summit of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii in May 2018, when it was too dangerous to observe on foot.

VOLCANO, Hawaii -- Ever wondered what it's like to soar over the summit of an active volcano as ash plumes thousands of feet into the air?

That's exactly what scientists with the United States Geological Survey got to experience as they sent a drone-mounted camera to survey the summit of Kilauea in Hawaii. Three weeks into the volcano's eruption, scientists said the summit is still too dangerous to survey on foot.

According to the USGS, an average of two large explosions a day are sending ash as high as 10,000 feet above sea level, though smaller emissions of ash occur more often.

There are currently more than 20 fissures associated with Kilauea, and they've fountained lava that has poured across the Hawaiian landscape and destroyed 41 homes and dozens of other structures. Thousands of residents have been impacted by evacuation orders as lava continues to flow, entering the ocean at three different points as of May 26.

But the threat isn't over once the lava flows reach the ocean; contact with ocean water causes a dangerous lava-haze phenomena known as 'laze' that sends acid- and glass-laced steam shooting into the air, creating yet another hazard for those downwind of the lava's ocean entry point.

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Lava flows and hazardous volcanic particles continue to be emitted by Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on Saturday, June 9. (Paradise Helicopters)
Paradise Helicopters