Geologists say ‘big one’ still possible as ash cloud rises from Kilauea

Photo courtesy of TIM WRIGHT A smoldering lava fissure is seen Tuesday afternoon encroaching near Puna Geothermal Venture power plant.
HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald People watch from Volcano Golf & Country Club on Tuesday as a plume of ash rises above Kilauea's summit.
HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Ash gathers in the leaves of ohia tree branches Tuesday along Highway 11 near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Volunteers Pamela Bruce and Ron Emery help to sign in evacuees Tuesday at the Recovery Information and Assistance Center at the Pahoa Community Center.
HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Deric Faris of the Salvation Army grabs a backpack full of food and water for an evacuee Tuesday at the Pahoa Community Center.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey At 11:43 a.m. Tuesday, Civil Air Patrol flight CAP20 reported plume tops at about 9,500 feet with the dispersed plume rising as high as 11,000 feet. The CAP mission was launched from Hilo in support of Hawaii County Civil Defense and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory response to the ongoing eruption. Ash from this plume was reported falling on communities downwind.

HILO ­— An enormous ash cloud towered above Kilauea’s summit Tuesday and dusted downwind communities, but the expulsion was short of the “big one” that could eject boulders inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.