Hawaii volcano generates blue flames from burning methane

Workers in Hawaii plugging energy wells as lava flows nearby

Since Kilauea's massive eruption, rivers of fire have swallowed at least 40 structures, hurled lava through cracks in the earth's surface and devastated livelihoods. Now blue has joined the mix: the blue flames of burning methane gas.

Methane gas can seep into subsurface voids and explode when heated, emerging from cracks in the ground several feet away from the lava.

"I think the biggest worry for us is based on the geologic history of this volcano - is that the current fissure activity could actually become a bit larger", said geologist Steve Brantley from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Blue flames of methane gas escape from a crack near a volcanic fissure from Kilauea in Leilani Estates, on Hawaii's Big Island, on Wednesday.

Kauahikaua said this is the second time he has seen the blue flames.

So far, more than 2,000 people have been evacuated from the area as almost two dozen fissures opened in the ground and lava slowly moved toward the sea.

Officials said there was no "immediate threat" to the Puna Geothermal Company (PGV) a 38-megawatt plant run by the state of Hawaii.

Workers in Hawaii plugging energy wells as lava flows nearby
Survivor describes 'powerful and hot' impact of lava bomb

"This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows", the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Some residents in Hawaii's Big Island are standing their ground against the fury of the Kilauea volcano as they try to protect their properties and their lives. Lava continues to erupt in two evacuated subdivisions. Officials are concerned that "laze", a unsafe product produced when hot lava hits cool ocean water, will affect residents.

The preparations came as a third lava flow from Kilauea streamed into the ocean on Thursday.

At least 22 lava fissures have opened in lower Puna, Hawaii, since a May 4 quake near the Kilauea volcano. Ormat is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and shares have fallen almost 10 percent since Kilauea began erupting.

The ash, vog and the lava haze - laze - produced at the coastline represent breathing hazards for anyone unlucky enough to be standing downwind, which you can track via these vog forecasts.

Wendy Stovall, a USGS scientist, said that lava breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air when it hits the sea and cools.

"County, state, and federal partners have been collaborating closely to monitor the situation and work with PGV to ensure the safety of the surrounding communities", said Hawaii County Civil Defence (HCCD) in a statement, adding that "Efforts are ongoing to make sure the site is secure and the community is kept safe".

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