Hawaiian Volcano Acting Feisty

Halemaumau's eruption mild for now, but officials well aware of dangers
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2008 2:03 PM CDT
As volcanic gas escapes from a vent, a young girl views the surrounding area of the Halemaumau Crater near the Jaggar Museum inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.   (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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(Newser) – Halemaumau Crater on Hawaii's Big Island is acting up—venting gas and the occasional gobbet of lava. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is classifying the activity as the crater's first eruption since 1982, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports; scientists are unsure whether the trickle could turn into a larger, more dangerous convulsion. "It might," the Observatory's head said yesterday.

"Personally, it's exciting, but on the flip side, it's a little bit intimidating," says one parks worker. The Observatory is warning airplanes to stay away; health officials advise people exposed to the sulfur dioxide plume should protect themselves by staying inside and drinking plenty of fluids. For now, at least, prevailing winds are keeping toxic gas away from most-populated areas.