>> Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be about to get a lot more violent. The summit sat quiet behind a cloud of ash and rain on Wednesday, but geologists report that it started hurling chunks of rock the size of microwaves. Like this one found in a nearby parking lot. The US Geological Survey says that these so-called ballistic blocks could signal the start of bigger explosive eruptions, as steam builds up beneath the surface.
Reporter Terray Silvester visited the town of Volcano not far from Kīlauea.>> Since this erruption started nearly two weeks ago, residents in the town of Volcano have been spared the worst of the eruption's impact. No fissures have opened anywhere near the MM. The big island's prevailing winds have carried toxic gases and what ash has erupted from the crater off to the southeast, away from the town of Volcano.
But those winds died today, and when I arrived in Volcano a haze of ash hung over the area. It wasn't just ash, the air smelled lightly of rotten eggs, which is a sign of sulfur dioxide fumes. The air quality wasn't enough to make me sick. I'd spent most of the day in it and didn't feel any effect.
But I did talk to residents who were taking some precautions such as limiting their time outside.>> Residents were also rattled by a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, which shook buildings and sent cracks along a major highway. Geologists say the real danger is if Kilauea's lava lake falls under the water table.
That could create enough steam to trigger a major eruption, sending ash plumes as high as 20,000 feet. And hurling boulders the size of small cars up to half a mile away. Meanwhile, Hawaii's governor says that the state is getting ready for a bigger disaster, organizing a joint task force with the military and the National Guard to carry out mass evacuations if needed.