Lava wall protecting geothermal plant

Lava wall protecting geothermal plant

Lava wall protecting geothermal plant

Kilauea, the volcano on Hawaii's Big Island that's been erupting since May 3, is visible from space - and astronauts have been helping with the emergency response. The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island's daily energy demand. The building was owned by the state and was used in geothermal research projects in the early days of the site.

The Puna Geothermal Venture in Hawaii is secure, and if lava did encroach on it the danger of a toxic gas release is "very low", authorities said. Lava has burned and buried more than a dozen homes in the community, and 1,700 people have fled. The remarkable footage was taken May 22 in the vicinity of the Puna Geothermal Venture, a plant that brings steam to the surface by way of several underground wells. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name. Ormat operates other geothermal power plants in the U.S., Kenya, Guadalupe, Guatemala and Honduras.

The volcano began erupting with lava, ash and toxic gas more than three weeks ago and has so far forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people.

Actually, Kilauea began erupting not on May 3 but in 1983. It is responsible for 4.5% of Ormat's total geothermal power production worldwide.

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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.

That information includes detecting active fissures and fires, the height and composition of volcanic plumes, ground "deformation" caused by the movement of magma and images of ash and sulfur dioxide plumes, NASA said in their release.

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 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.

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