How NASA Tech Is Helping Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Response

How NASA Tech Is Helping Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Response

The nearby Gemini Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii, captured a time-lapse glimpse at Kilauea from Monday night into Tuesday morning as the light from the volcano and its almost two-dozen fissures beamed through the clouds.

Native Hawaiians have long expressed frustration with the plant since it came online in 1989; they say it is built on sacred land.

Hawaii County officials say lava from active fissures near the Puna plant has destroyed an old warehouse site that was used in early research and development.

The Puna power plant supplies 25 percent of the island's electricity, the daily business website Calcalist reported.

At least 44 homes and other structures have been destroyed in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens area of the Puna district, and a man was seriously injured on Saturday when a plate-sized chunk of molten shot out of a fissure and struck him on the leg. "This activity has destroyed the former Hawaii Geothermal Project site", it said referring to the warehouse.

The plant's owner, Ormat Industries, sent a soothing message to investors just a week ago, but now the lava has arrived. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name.

Deadly lava is tearing through Hawaii as the Kilauea volcano's violent eruption continues — here are the latest images

Kilauea began erupting lava in a residential neighborhood on May 3.

Puna Geothermal represents about 4.5 percent of Ormat's worldwide generating capacity.

Nearby, stunning blue flames were seen spouting from cracks in the road, caused by the release of methane as lava burns plants and trees.

Beyond the immediate fire danger from the lava, high levels of sulfur dioxide spewing from the volcano pose a serious threat to children, elderly people, and people with respiratory issues, the United States Geological Survey said.

But Kilauea's activity ratcheted up considerably on May 3 after an quake rattled the region; lava began spilling from newly created fissures and spreading through neighborhoods, turning parts of the Big Island into disaster zones.

Hawaii man Darryl Clinton has told how molten rock almost sheared his leg in half when he was hit over the weekend. Large steam plumes created lava haze, or "laze", laced with hydrochloric acid and fine glass shards when it flowed into the sea. Residents have been concerned about hazards if the lava flowed over the plant's facilities, or if heat generated would interact with various chemicals used on-site.

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