Workers plugging energy wells as lava flows nearby


The observatory said in a release that the volcano's fissures were actively expelling lava during the period in which the time-lapse footage was shot.

The lava flow entered the 800-acre property of the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant on Monday and had stalled at a swale about 300 yards from the nearest underground well. By nature of the beast, a geothermal plant is built in a place featuring geothermal activity, which in this case is connected to the active volcano now threatening the plant.

A spike in the level of gases in the air could lead to a mass evacuation as could a problem at the plant. The latest was a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant, Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The restive Kilauea Volcano belched clouds of ash into the skies over Hawaii's Big Island twice more on Wednesday as civil defense authorities reported that pressurized geothermal wells at a nearby power plant had been secured from approaching lava.

Lava destroyed a building near the plant late Monday, bringing the total number of structures overtaken in the past several weeks to almost 50, including dozens of homes.

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

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.

Scientists say the methane can seep through cracks several feet away from the lava.

Panorama of Lower East Rift Zone Camera from Lower East Rift Zone Last Updated
Panorama of Lower East Rift Zone Camera from Lower East Rift Zone Last Updated

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

It knocked him backward on the third-floor lanai of his neighbor's home on the eastern end of the Big Island, where most people had evacuated amid three weeks of heightened volcanic activity on Kilauea.

Doctors were able to save his leg, but he must stay off of it for six weeks.

Before the Leilani Estates eruption, the volcano's summit had been releasing an average of 3,000 to 6,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each day.

Clinton was the first to suffer a major injury because of the eruption.

Laze itself is not enough to cause serious burns, Babb said, unless someone is right on top of where lava enters the ocean. The U.S. Geological Survey says laze contributed to two deaths in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows.

Authorities also were monitoring hazards from noxious clouds of acid fumes, steam and fine glass-like particles - called laze, a mix of lava and haze - emitted into the air from lava streams pouring into the Pacific Ocean on the south end of the island, about 3 miles (4.8 km) east of the geothermal plant. There has been continuous low-level ash emission from Kilauea's summit with larger explosions every few hours, said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Mike Poland.