Concerns are mounting as Kilauea enters its most violent stage yet, as the lava lake drops nearer to the water table.
Hawaii Volcano Observatory warned: “At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles very near the vent.
“Communities downwind should be prepared for ashfall as long as this activity continues.”
The youngest yet most active of all Hawaii’s volcanoes, Kilauea eruption – which has been continuous since shows no signs of slowing down on Big Island.
Earthquakes plotted by United States Geological Survey (USGS) are showing a rise in the magnitude of the tremors, which could impact on further eruptions.
Could Kilauea eruptions be bigger than Pompeii?
Kilauea may cover less than 10 percent of Big Island’s land mass but 90 percent of its surface is less than 1,000 years old.
Some 20 percent of those flows are less than 200 years old, showing just how explosive the volcano’s summit is.
USGS warned earlier this month that “ballistic blocks” weighing multiple tonnes could be hurtled up to half a mile away with very little warning if the lava lake drops too low.
This happened in 1924 which causing ground water to interact with the molten rock leading to a huge build-up of steam and causing “violent explosions”.
USGS said the explosions were the most powerful since the early 19th century as rocks weighing 14 tons were thrown from the craters.
An earlier eruption in 1790 killed 400 people in pre-United States territory.
However, experts say Kilauea’s current explosions still pale in comparison to the biggest volcanic eruptions of all time.
Pompeii, the ancient Roman town in what is now known as the province of Naples in Italy, is perhaps the most famous example of the destruction of volcanoes.
The city was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted violating sending up to 20ft of volcanic ash and molten rock into the air at 100mph.
Around 11,000 people were believed to have been killed, the majority of those by ash suffocation.
The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in present-day Indonesia remains one of the powerful in recorded history.
Measuring 7 on the Volcanic Explosively Index, the massive eruption killed 10,000 people directly.
Up to another 100,000 people hit by disease and hunger also perished.
The eruption was so powerful it lowered temperatures globally, causing harvests to falter in many countries.