Published: Thu, May 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Lava reaches area of geothermal power station in Hawaii

Lava reaches area of geothermal power station in Hawaii

Fast-flowing lava rivers are oozing across Hawaii's Big Island, prompting officials to urge remaining residents in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens evacuation zones to flee immediately.

Leilani Estates resident Steve Gebbie said he lost his home to lava Sunday night.

On Monday, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) explained on Twitter that roasting marshmallows over scorching, molten rock is not a great idea for a multitude of reasons.

Furthermore, if sulfuric acid is added to sugar, USGS officials say there would be a "pretty spectacular reaction". Please contact friends and relatives to make sure they're safe. "We lost [Highway] 132 and there's no power down to that area and as explained to me, it's going to be an extended outage".

Hawaii County said Tuesday the lava destroyed the local electric utility's equipment on the highway.

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Kilauea is now in its fourth week of what may be an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at its summit crater and along a 9.7-km string of fissures 40km down its east flank.

Fissures 18 and 8 were highly active this morning, with one lava flow reaching to within about a half-mile of the famous coastal warm pond at Ahalanui, and another extending its reach to about a mile from the Four Corners intersection, which is a critical access point for Highway 137. It is unclear how many homes and businesses were without power. The fissure produced a large spatter rampart more than 100 feet tall from fountains reaching 150 to 200 feet, the US Geological Survey said Sunday.

But lava has never engulfed a geothermal plant anywhere in the world and the potential threat is untested, according to the head of the state's emergency management agency.

So far no deaths have been recorded from the eruption, but one man has suffered a shattered leg after being hit by a chunk of lava rock. As national park service ranger Shyla explains, the hazards include emissions of toxic gases, unexpected explosions, flying debris (which include deadly lava bombs), and collapses of land - notably near the ocean.

Since the first outbreak happened more than three weeks ago, lava has claimed at least 92 structures in lower Puna (including 41 homes) and covered some 2,400 acres in lower Puna (or about 3.8 square miles).

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