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Lava flow closes in on Hawaii power plant

26 May 2018

The occurrence of new lava vents, now numbering about two dozen, have been accompanied by flurries of earthquakes and periodic eruptions of ash, volcanic rock and toxic gases from the volcano's summit crater.

Blue flames of methane gas erupt through cracks in a footpath. "It's very dramatic, very eerie", geophysicist Jim Kauahikaua said.

The restive Kilauea Volcano belched clouds of ash into the skies over Hawaii's Big Island twice more on Wednesday as civil defense authorities reported that pressurized geothermal wells at a nearby power plant had been secured from approaching lava.

He said it was just the second time he's ever seen blue flames during an eruption.

"During the sequence, multiple fissures expelled lava in the area in and around Leilani Estates in the Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii", the Gemini Observatory said in a statement.

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The lava flows themselves were usually slow enough to be avoided, he said.

The volcano produces methane when hot lava buries and burns plants and trees.

"It's probably going to do this for a little while longer", said US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall on the conference call, describing the stage of the eruption as the "middle" or "kind of the steady state".

Hinkle and countless other residents on Hawaii's Big Island are fighting the toxic effects of sulfur dioxide, which is still spewing from cracks in the Earth's surface after the eruption on May 3.

The fountains were feeding lava flows in channels down to the coast.

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Nearly two dozen fissures have opened up since then, leaking out slow-moving lava and spewing unsafe sulphur dioxide.

"What we try to focus on with all our messaging is that people recognize the possibility of isolation, that they need to be prepared", Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, told reporters Wednesday. The combination of hot lava and cool water from the Pacific Ocean can send steam containing glass particles and hydrochloric acid airborne. The lava approached the southernmost point of the station's boundaries and a disused building belonging to the University of Hawaii caught fire, it stated.

Despite the epic imagery, Kilauea's recent activity is a blip when compared to its previous episodes since 1983, when the current eruption technically began. Geologists say the volcano has entered into a more violent phase, in which larger amounts of molten rock are pouring out from fissures and travelling further than before.

One man had part of his left leg shattered after a piece of cooling lava hit him out of nowhere while he was on his balcony.

Noni Farms Road is a residential road that lies to the east of the Leilani Estates neighbourhood in Pahoa, where the majority of the volcanic activity has been focused.

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Lava flow closes in on Hawaii power plant