Published: Fri, May 25, 2018
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

Hawaii volcano: Why Kilauea's lava is causing eerie blue flames

Hawaii volcano: Why Kilauea's lava is causing eerie blue flames

Even on the Big Island, home of Kilauea, Ige says "the one area that people need to avoid is lower Puna where the eruption is ongoing". Lava from the Kilauea volcano is hitting the Pacific Ocean and it's sending laze, a unsafe combination of hydrochloric acid and glass particles, into the air.

Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks.

Volcanic gas emissions at the summit remain high.

Be aware of the laze hazard and stay away from any ocean plume.

Residents down rift of the lava flows should be prepared to voluntarily evacuate at a moment's notice. "That way, one day when all of this is over we can come home and bring our children home and they can see their house", she said.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Jim Kauahikaua (COW-ah-hee-COW-ah) told reporters it's just the second time he's ever seen blue flames during an eruption.

The methane can seep through cracks several feet away from the lava.

At least 22 lava fissures have opened in lower Puna, Hawaii, since a May 4 natural disaster near the Kilauea volcano.

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The middle portion of the fissure system has been described as the most active. A team from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and the company continued Wednesday to plug the wells to make sure the fluid inside doesn't move from one part of the well to the other, said Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County.

Kilauea's summit has seenexplosive eruptions since then, sending plumes of ash thousands of feet into the air.

"Web cams, observers and radar data indicate that occasional small bursts of volcanic ash continue to emanate from Halemaumau Crater", said weather officials in a National Weather Service bulletin.

Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada's Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. When lava buries plants and shrubs, methane gas is produced as a byproduct of burning vegetation.

Lava is entering the ocean off Hawaii from a third flow, marking the third week of a volcanic eruption that has opened up almost two dozen vents, destroyed buildings and sent plumes of ash many kilometres into the sky.

Blue flames of methane gas erupt through cracks in a footpath.

In addition to the lava threatening homes and roads, it's also carving a fiery pathway toward the sea. Fountains are also erupting from fissures 5, 6, 13 and 19 and continue to feed a lava flow advancing to the south along the west side of fissure 22, flows that reached the ocean late Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

The lava channel emerging from Fissure 22 (not visible, but to the center, far right of the image).

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