Hawaii volcano reaches ocean, jungles, threatens geothermal plant

Blackout not expected in Hawaii even if lava reaches power plant, officials say

On the volcano's east flank, almost 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. There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure. The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island's daily energy demand.

At least 47 homes and other structures have been destroyed by almost two dozen fissures in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, and a man was seriously injured on Saturday by flying lava.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is still gushing lava, weeks after violent eruptions first began.

Lava from a nearby, new volcanic vent entered, then stalled, on the 815-acre (330-hectare) property where the Puna Geothermal Venture wells occupy about 40 acres (16 hectares). The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth's core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of it from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.

By comparison, the summit produced an average of 3,000 to 6,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per day when there was a lava lake in the caldera, while Puu Oo normally produced 200 to 300 tons.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday that the East Rift eruption is producing 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide gas per day, an amount that is far beyond the amounts normally produced at the Kilauea Volcano summit or at the Puu Oo crater. The striking aerial footage shows lava flowing indiscriminately across the Hawaiian landscape, swallowing everything in its path as more lava continues to fountain in the background.

Accumulations of cooled, hardened lava created a thick, 30-foot (9.14-metre) high wall of solid volcanic rock channelling fresh lava streams from fissures to the south, away from the PGV plant, USGS scientists said.

"It was incredible. It was just the event of a lifetime", Clinton said.

A local man named Darryl Clinton was sitting on his porch when he was hit by a bowling ball sized lava bomb, shattering his legs. "I didn't care if they cut my leg off or not", Clinton said, according to KHON.

Laze occurs when hot lava meets the ocean, sending a plume of hydrochloric acid and steam, along with fine glass particles, into the air.

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

"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.

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