Hawaii's Volcano Is Now Producing Eerie Blue Flames: Here's What They Are

Hawaii's Volcano Is Now Producing Eerie Blue Flames: Here's What They Are

The latest back-to-back upheavals of ash from the main summit crater of Kilauea - one before dawn and another several hours later - came on the 21st day of what geologists rank as one of the biggest eruption cycles in a century from one of the world's most active volcanoes.

When lava hits the sea and cools, it breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air, which could land on boats in the water, said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

As the lava burns up vegetation in its path, it can create the flammable gas, USGS explains, which then seeps into underground apertures, rising from cracks and burning blue once ignited. Even a wisp can cause eye and respiratory irritation, and it causes acid rain that has corrosive properties equivalent to diluted battery acid, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

He said it was just the second time he's ever seen blue flames during an eruption.

The ongoing eruption of Kilauea is the largest in decades, destroying more than 40 homes to date.

Molten lava crept into the grounds of a geothermal power plant site, as workers rushed to shut down the facility to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases.

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At Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, eerie blue flames indicate the presence of methane gas. The lava approached the southernmost point of the station's boundaries and a disused building belonging to the University of Hawaii caught fire, it stated.

Underscoring the eruption's dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend said the molten rock almost sheared his leg in half. Lava has crossed a coastal highway and into the Pacific Ocean, causing a phenomenon known as "laze", and crept towards a geothermal plant in the Puna district.

Be aware of the laze hazard and stay away from any ocean plume. 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.

The middle portion of the fissure system (centered on Pohoiki Rd.) continues to produce the most robust eruptive activity in the Lower East Rift Zone.

"The experts are telling us there is no danger from the eruptions to anyone outside the areas that have been evacuated", Gov. David Ige said in a statement.

Heath Dalton, right, and Jim Carpenter take pictures as fissures spew lava in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii, on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

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