No End in Sight: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Eruption Could Threaten Geothermal Plant

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The U.S. Geological Survey said sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began.

These were new risks geologists warned of on Tuesday as Kilauea's 19-day eruption showed no sign of easing, with repeated explosions at its summit and fountains of lava up to 160 feet from giant cracks or fissures on its flank.

The occurrence of new lava vents, now numbering about two dozen, have been accompanied by flurries of earthquakes and periodic eruptions of ash, volcanic rock and toxic gases from the volcano's summit crater.

Lava erupts inside Leilani Estates near Pahoa, Hawaii. Some lava, however, menaced a geothermal plant.

Gov. David Ige said Tuesday that authorities are monitoring the flow of lava and the threat to the plant.

One major potential hazard that appeared to have been brought under control was at the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) plant, which provides about a quarter of the Big Island's electricity. A metal cap has been added on top as an additional measure.

Kilauea began erupting lava in a residential neighbourhood on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth's core to spin turbines to generate power.

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

No End in Sight: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Eruption Could Threaten Geothermal Plant
No End in Sight: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Eruption Could Threaten Geothermal Plant

Underscoring the eruption's dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend and said the molten rock almost sheared his leg in half.

"I don't know if I was in shock", Clinton said.

Clinton became the first known person injured by Kilauea since its volcanic activity dramatically increased more than three weeks ago.

Lava from the eruption on the Big Island is primarily flowing south toward the ocean. Lava flowing from the volcano recently reached the ocean, causing a risky lava-haze phenomena known as ' laze' that sends acid- and glass-laced steam shooting into the air, creating yet another hazard for those downwind of the lava's ocean entry point.

Lava erupts from a Kilauea volcano fissure on Hawaii's Big Island, May 22, 2018 in Kapoho, Hawaii.

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.

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