Kilauea lava flows threaten geothermal power plant


Kilauea rumbled back to life on May 3 as it began extruding lava and sulfur dioxide emissions through a series of fissures, marking the latest phase of an eruption cycle that has continued almost nonstop for 35 years.

Darryl Clinton told the Honolulu television station KHON that he was on the roof of a home helping to put out fires from flying rocks when an explosion several hundred yards away launched a "lava bomb" that hit him above the ankle.

Lava has already destroyed almost 50 buildings including dozens of homes.

Nighttime photos released by the US Geological Survey were taken in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood where the volcano has been sending up lava through vents in the ground. Fountains erupt from vents along fissures within active lava lakes.

Hawaii County civil defense officials say lava from an active fissure has destroyed an old warehouse that was used in early research and development at the Puna Geothermal plant. Authorities are especially concerned about how flowing lava could affect Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV), a plant that provides at least one-quarter of the Big Island's daily energy needs via geothermal wells. There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure.

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.

Hawaii volcano Kilauea eruption
GettyLava continues to spread itself across the island of Hawaii

Clinton said doctors saved his leg, but he must avoid putting weight on it for six weeks.

Kilauea's latest eruptive episode has upended life on parts of the Big Island since April 30, when the floor of the Puu Oo Crater, on the volcano's East Rift Zone, collapsed and sent its pool of lava back underground.

Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks. Lava flowing from the volcano recently reached the ocean, causing a risky lava-haze phenomena known as ' laze' that sends acid- and glass-laced steam shooting into the air, creating yet another hazard for those downwind of the lava's ocean entry point.

Known as "laze" - a combination of the words "lava" and "haze", the plume occurs when molten lava flows into the ocean.

The agency said they are also using aircaft to fly over the eruption and detect changes in the volcano's topography that come with the lava flows.

The molten rock started pouring into the sea over the weekend.