Hawaii volcano overwhelms neighborhood with river of molten misery

Hawaii volcano overwhelms neighborhood with river of molten misery

"The air quality has been so bad that everybody has been walking around with a (dust) mask".

Kilauea's latest eruptive episode has upended life on parts of the Big Island since April 30, when the floor of the Puu Oo Crater, on the volcano's East Rift Zone, collapsed and sent its pool of lava back underground. Some lava, however, menaced a geothermal plant.

A fine layer of brownish-gray ash coated vehicles and other surfaces, and an ash plume rising from the volcano summit was visible in the distance through the hazy air.

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

The governor said "as of today, 10 of 11 wells are quenched and are stable, and 11th well is plugged and the pressure in the well has diminished to the point that we believe it's stable", Ige said. It has since opened more than 20 vents releasing lava, sulfur dioxide and steam.

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The facility also received a respite from Mother Nature.

Kilauea began erupting lava in a residential neighborhood on May 3. Lava flowing from the volcano recently reached the ocean, causing a unsafe 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. The caustic plume, which can be fatal if inhaled, is the latest hazard in an eruption that shows no signs of stopping.

Laze - a term combining the words "lava" and "haze" - is formed when molten lava, reaching temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 Celsius), reacts with sea water.

"The methane gas will flow through the ground, through the cracks that are already existing, and will come up wherever there's a place for them to come up", said Wendy Stovall, a scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey. One man was seriously injured after being hit by a flying piece of lava. Civil defence officials said contingency plans for further evacuations were being prepared with National Guard officials in case they become necessary.

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