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Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park closed 'until further notice'

By Ray Downs
The summit lava lake of the Kilauea Volcano has dropped significantly over the past few days, and on the evening of May 6, was roughly 220m below the crater rim. Photo by USGS/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/84bc18c244680e793e0bdf34591234a4/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The summit lava lake of the Kilauea Volcano has dropped significantly over the past few days, and on the evening of May 6, was roughly 220m below the crater rim. Photo by USGS/UPI | License Photo

May 10 (UPI) -- The Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park will close Friday because of potential steam and ash fall at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, the National Park Service announced.

"Due to the possibility of a steam-induced explosion at the summit of Kīlauea due to the receding lava lake, an ensuing ash fall event, plus southerly wind patterns forecasted for Friday, the majority of the park will be closed Friday until further notice," the NPS said in a statement. "We will reopen when it is safe to do so."

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Most of the park will be closed except for the Kahuku Unit, which will be open normal hours.

The temporary closing of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park comes after the Kilauea volcano has been releasing toxic steam and lava for several days, causing widespread damage in the area.

Although Kilauea is a normally active volcano, the recent increase in activity has some experts predicting a large explosion soon.

Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Christina Neal told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that scientists believe a small earthquake near the summit of Kilauea caused a large rockfall into the crater, which led to an explosion near the surface of its lava lake.

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"I think it's our best estimation that this is the first of perhaps more events like that to come," Neal said.

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