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Ash clouds from Kilauea volcano prompt red alert on Hawaii's Big Island

Ash clouds from Kilauea volcano prompt red alert on Hawaii's Big Island

USGS officials have said a phreatic eruption could happen at a crater at the top of the Kilauea volcano. It could send ash plumes as far as 12 miles from the summit crater, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. These are steam-driven explosions that occur when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot rocks or new volcanic deposits, the USGS says. The intense heat may cause that water to boil and result in eruptions. Gas seeping out of cracks Besides the ash, which is not poisonous, residents have to worry about choking on sulfur dioxide. Coombs said the gas is coming out of 21 fissures, or cracks in the ground, caused by the volcano. Levels of the toxic gas are