Red ash began rising from the Puu Oo vent on Hawaiis Kilauea after a magnitude 5.0 earthquake May 3. The vents crater floor collapsed April 30, triggering the first earthquake and a major shift in magma. The floors collapse caused magma to rush into new underground chambers. Hundreds of earthquakes following the initial quake, including a magnitude 6.9 temblor May 4. Fourteen fissures along the East Rift have opened, with lava flows destroying at least 35 buildings.
Eruptions and quakes happen daily
The Ring of Fire surrounding the Pacific Ocean contains many volcanoes, ocean trenches and mountain ranges along which about 90 percent of Earths earthquakes occur, according to the National Geographic Society. The red areas below are volcanoes that are erupting; yellow shows areas of unrest, and orange indicates minor activity. The circles indicate earthquakes that occurred Tuesday, May 8.
You can see current eruption and quake activity on the Volcano Discovery site.
Why Kilaueas activity matters to Californians
Californians might feel immune to a volcanic eruption, but the state has seven active volcanoes:
Mount Shasta, near the Oregon border
Lassen Volcanic Center, east of Redding
Long Valley Volcanic Region, northeast of Mammoth Mountain
Clear Lake Volcanic Field, along the southwest edge of Clear Lake
Medicine Lake Volcano, in Siskiyou County
Salton Buttes, on the southeast edge of Salton Sea
Ubehebe Craters, east of Kings Canyon National Park
Coso Volcanic Field, in the northern Mojave Desert
Volcanoes and earthquakes both occur along tectonic plates, which the U.S. Geological Survey defines as massive slabs of solid rock. One of the largest plates is the Pacific Plate, along which Californias West Coast formed.
The probability of a major eruption is unknown, but the likelihood of a major earthquake is always a threat. Volcanic eruption and earthquakes have a lot in common, including short warning times.
Californias alert system
California is seeking funding to complete an earthquake early-warning system that could send warnings of earthquakes similar to Japans. The goal is for 1,675 stations. Currently, the state has 860; 75 percent of the total is expected to be installed by the end of the year.
Progress is being made to alert people by phone but it is currently not ready. The USGS detects earthquake activity and issues an alert. It relies on partners to distribute the alert. The current system is unable to get alerts to people fast enough.
Emergency kits are readily available online from several sources, including the American Red Cross.
This kit, from Sustain Supply Co., is designed to get four people through a 72-hour emergency. The food and water supplies in the kit should last for at least five years. Kits range in price depending on size.
The preparedness website Ready.gov lists the following essentials for any disaster kit:
Water: One gallon per person per dayFood: for at least three daysRadio, battery or hand crankFlashlightFirst aid kitExtra batteriesWhistleDust maskWipesWrench or pliersCan openerLocal mapsCellphone