Ocean, jungle explosions new risks from
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[May 23, 2018]
By Jolyn Rosa
HONOLULU (Reuters) - Lava from Hawaii's
erupting Kilauea volcano is exploding as it pours into the ocean,
shooting rock fragments that are a danger to boaters. Inland, where
molten rock is burning through jungle, methane explosions are hurling
boulders while toxic gas is reaching some of the highest levels seen in
These were new risks geologists warned of on Tuesday as Kilauea's 19-day
eruption showed no sign of easing, with repeated explosions at its
summit and fountains of lava up to 160 feet (50 m) from giant cracks or
fissures on its flank.
Lava edged towards a geothermal power plant on Tuesday after destroying
an old warehouse near the facility, County of Hawaii Civil Defense said.
Workers at the closed Puna Geothermal Venture, which provided around 25
percent of electricity on Hawaii's Big Island, worked to cap the last of
three pressurized wells to reduce the risk of an uncontrolled release of
toxic gases should they be inundated by lava.
The race at the site marked the latest challenge facing authorities
during what geologists call an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at
Kilauea's summit and from giant fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its
"Fissures near Puna Geothermal Venture are active and producing lava
slowly flowing onto the property," Civil Defense said in a statement.
"This activity has destroyed the former Hawaii Geothermal Project site,"
it said referring to the warehouse.
An explosive eruption at the Kilauea summit at 3:45 a.m. (9:45 a.m. EST)
sent ash to a height of 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) over Hawaii's Big
Island, civil defense said. Communities southwest of the summit were
dusted with ash, said National Weather Service meteorologist John
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A Hawaii Air National Guard Airman observes three lava fissures at
Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions in Pahoa, Hawaii,
U.S., May 15, 2018. Courtesy John Linzmeier/U.S. Air National
Guard/Handout via REUTERS
On the volcano's east flank, nearly two-dozen fissures are producing
15,000 tons a day of toxic sulfur dioxide, a level "much higher than
seen in recent times," Bravender said.
MORE VIOLENT PHASE
The Puna district's geothermal plant has been closed since shortly
after lava began erupting on May 3 through newly opened fissures in
the ground running through neighborhoods and roads in an area near
the community of Pahoa.
About 3 miles (4.8 km) to the east of the plant on the coast,
noxious clouds of acid fumes, steam and fine glass-like particles
billowed into the sky as lava poured into the ocean from two lava
At least 47 homes and other structures have been destroyed by nearly
two dozen fissures in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, and
a man was seriously injured on Saturday by flying lava. Around two
thousand people have been forced to evacuate, and many others have
voluntarily left their homes.
(Reporting by Jolyn Rosa; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Bill
Tarrant and Sandra Maler)
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