Hawaii volcano produces methane and ‘eerie’ blue flames

HONOLULU — Scientists in Hawaii have captured rare images of blue flames burning from cracks in the pavement as Kilauea volcano gushes fountains of lava in the background, offering a look at a new dimension in the volcano’s weeks-long eruption.

The volcano produces methane when hot lava buries and burns plants and trees. The gas flows through the ground and up through existing cracks.

“It’s very dramatic. It’s very eerie,” Jim Kauahikaua, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist, told reporters. He said it was 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. It can also cause explosions when it’s ignited while trapped underground. These blasts can toss blocks several feet away, said Wendy Stovall, also a scientist at the Geological Survey.

Hawaii County has ordered about 2,000 people to evacuate from Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods since the eruption began on May 3

 
Blue Flames Emitting From Hawaii Eruption
The volcano has opened more than 20 vents in the ground that have released lava, sulfur dioxide and steam. The lava has been pouring down the flank of the volcano and into the ocean miles away.

The eruption has destroyed 50 buildings, including about two dozen homes. One person was seriously injured after being hit by a flying piece of lava.

Stovall said lava spatter from one of the vents was forming a wall that was helping protect a nearby geothermal plant.

Lava from that vent was shooting further into the air and producing the highest lava wall of all the vents, which was blocking molten rock from flowing north toward the plant.

Officials shut down Puna Geothermal shortly after the eruption began.

Slide 6 of 204: Lava gushes from a fissure eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in the Leilani Estates near Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 23, 2018.

Slide 9 of 204: An ash cloud billows from the Halemaumau crater during the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Volcano, Hawaii, U.S., May 23, 2018.  REUTERS/Marco Garcia

Slide 10 of 204: This photo released Wednesday, May 23, 2018 by the U.S. Geological Survey shows  blue burning flame of methane gas was observed in the cracks on Kahukai Street, during the overnight hours. The volcano produces methane when hot lava buries and burns plants and trees. Scientists say the methane can seep through cracks several feet away from the lava.Slide 11 of 204: A volcanic ash cloud hovers in the distance over the small town of Pahala during the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Pahala, Hawaii, U.S., May 23, 2018.  REUTERS/Marco Garcia

Slide 12 of 204: With an ash cloud visible from the Halemaumau crater, onlookers are seen from Highway 11 during the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano near Volcano, Hawaii, U.S., May 23, 2018.  REUTERS/Marco GarciaSlide 13 of 204: A volcanic ash cloud hovers in the distance during the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Pahala, Hawaii, U.S., May 23, 2018.  REUTERS/Marco GarciaSlide 14 of 204: A steam plume rises as lava enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn, after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 22, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.Slide 15 of 204: Lava erupts from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island on May 22, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii.Slide 19 of 204: An aerial view of a massive surface flow entering the sea at Malama Flats, leaving a stretch of Hwy 137 cutoff at both ends in Pahoa, Hawaii, USA, 22 May 2018.Slide 21 of 204: Lava burns a tree in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at a geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.Slide 22 of 204: Steam plumes rise as lava glows (LOWER R) as it enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn, after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 22, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.Slide 23 of 204: An aerial view of fissure eruptions near the Puna Geothermal Venture facility, and homes in the Lanipuna Gardens and Leilani Estates subdivisions in Pahoa, Hawaii, USA, 22 May 2018. The ongoing eruption of Kilauea is the largest in decades, destroying more than 40 homes to date, and displacing thousands. Eruptions at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, Pahoa, Usa - 22 May 2018Slide 20 of 204: A resident of the Leilani Estates subdivision steps over a crack in Pahoa, Hawaii on May 22, 2018.Slide 16 of 204: low from the lava in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions is seen from Pahoa, Hawaii on May 22, 2018.Slide 17 of 204: A steam plume rises and lava glows as it enters the Pacific Ocean at dawn, after flowing to the water from a Kilauea volcano fissure, on Hawaii's Big Island on May 22, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.Slide 30 of 204: Doug Ralston plays golf in Volcano, Hawaii, as a huge ash plume rises from the summit of Kiluaea volcano Monday, May 21, 2018.Slide 31 of 204: Aerial view of erupting fissure 22 and lava channels flowing southward from the fissure is seen from the air during an early morning overflight during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S. May 21, 2018.Slide 26 of 204: An aerial view of two storage warehouses, part of the Puna Geothermal Venture's facility, are consumed by an eruption by reactivated fissure 6 in Pahoa, Hawaii, USA, 22 May 2018. The ongoing eruption of Kilauea is the largest in decades, destroying more than 40 homes to date, and displacing thousands. Eruptions at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, Pahoa, Usa - 22 May 2018Slide 27 of 204: Heath Dalton removes his mask as lava erupts from fissures in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at a geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big IslandSlide 28 of 204: Jim Carpenter take pictures of lava erupting from fissures in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at a geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big IslandSlide 25 of 204: HAWAII, USA - MAY 22: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY  MANDATORY CREDIT - "USGS / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Ash plume rises from forest following a massive volcano eruption on Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, United States on May 22, 2018. Lava is spewing more than 60 metres into the air and spread around 36,000 square metres.Slide 24 of 204: Fissures spew lava in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at a geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.Slide 18 of 204: A property is devastated by lava as fissures continue to spew lava in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

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On Tuesday, officials finished stabilizing wells that bring up hot liquid and steam to feed a turbine generator. 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.

Earlier this month officials removed a flammable gas called pentane from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

Tourism officials cheered news that a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that tours the Hawaiian Islands would resume stopping in Kailua-Kona next week. Businesses catering to tourists on the cruise have taken a hit since the company suspended Big Island port visits after the eruption began.

The company said it would resume calling on Hilo, a town on the eastern side of the island closer to the lava, when conditions allow.

Source:https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/hawaii-volcano-produces-methane-and-eerie-blue-flames/ar-AAxL0Vx#image=AAwIXjV|32

 

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