Kilauea Volcano Update

SUBHEAD: Earthquake rocks Hawaii volcano and lava destroys Hawaii County Mayor Kim's home.

By John Bacon on 5 June 2018 for  USA Today -

Image above: Kilauea volcano Lava pours into the Pacific Ocean in the Puna district of the Big Island in Hawaii. From original article. Photo by the USGS.

[IB Publisher's note: Fracking causes earthquakes in places that are not prone to them. We are mostly aware of fracking used to work seams of underground fossil fuels. But it should be noted that the large geothermal energy effort that supplies 25% of the electrical energy used on the Big Island employs fracking technology deep underground in several "wells" where the volcanic activity is in the Kilauea area of Puna.] 

A magnitude-5.5 earthquake rattled Hawaii's Kilauea volcano Tuesday as the home of Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim was added to the inventory of destruction wrought by the searing lava ushering havoc into nearby Big Island communities.

Kim's home in the Vacationland neighborhood is one of 117 confirmed burned in the area since Kilauea began erupting May. 3. Authorities say the true number is much higher.

“Harry had a premonition this was going to happen,” Janet Snyder, spokeswoman of the Hawaii County Civil Defense, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “Vacationland is almost totally destroyed."

Tuesday's quake, the latest in a series to rock the surging volcano, spewed ash a mile into into the air. Some areas may have experienced "strong shaking," but no tsunami was triggered, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Lava is entering the water at the Vacationland tidepools and has inundated most of the subdivision, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory reported after a flyover Tuesday. To the north, lava has covered all but the northern part of lots in Kapoho Beach, the observatory said.

Thousands of residents of the Big Island's Puna district have evacuated since the eruptions began. Residents of Leilani Estates were ordered out weeks ago, and Kapoho Beach and Vacationland were recently evacuated amid fears that residents would be unreachable for rescue teams.

Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed because of a series of damaging earthquakes, corrosive volcanic ash and continuing explosions from Halema‘uma‘u, the summit crater of Kilauea.

“Unlike lava, which you can see coming and avoid, we cannot see or predict earthquakes," Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said. "Nor can we foresee a summit explosion. But both threats continue."

The area also is seeing increasing damage to its natural beauty. Kapoho Bay, near the Big Island's eastern tip, was filled with lava extending almost three-quarters of a mile from shore, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement. That raises the threat from laze, a toxic mixture of hydrochloric acid formed by lava vaporizing seawater.

At the Malama Kī Forest Reserve, forest managers report that up to half the 1,514 acres have thus far been "impacted" by the eruptions. The forest has served as habitat to sub-populations of native birds including Hawaiian honeycreepers, the Hawai‘i 'amakihi and ‘apapane.

The loss of forest habitat because of lava inundation and defoliation could mean these "sub-populations of wildlife may no longer persist, rapidly decline or become further fragmented and/or contract in range," forestry official Steve Bergfeld warned.

In the Puʻu Makaʻala Natural Area Reserve, higher up on the slopes of Kilauea, staff involved in the recovery of the endangered Hawaiian crow, the ‘alala, were closely monitoring birds released in the area.

"Staff on-site in the release area are prepared to recapture birds and transport them if needed,” project manager Jackie Levita-Gaudioso said.

Big Island Geothermal
SUBHEAD: Israeli-owned geothermal plant in Hawaii under fire as lava oozes nearby.

By Staff on 23 May 2018 for  Associated Press - 

Image above: Lava approaches Ormat's Puna Geothermal Venture plant on Hawaii's Big Island on May 21, 2018. Photo by Mario Tama. From original article.

Workers scramble to shut vents at Ormat Technology's Puna facility after Kilauea eruption claims adjacent building; stocks tumble in Tel Aviv and New York.

Authorities were racing Tuesday to close off production wells at an Israeli-owned geothermal plant threatened by a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Workers were capping the 11th and last well at the plant to prevent toxic gases from wafting out after lava entered, then stalled, on the property near one of the new volcanic vents.

“Right now, they’re in a safe state,” Mike Kaleikini, senior director of Hawaii affairs for the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, said of the wells. There also were plans to install metal plugs in the wells as an additional stopgap measure.

The wells run as far as 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) underground at the plant, which covers around 40 acres (16 hectares) of the 815-acre (329.8 hectare) property. The plant has capacity to produce 38 megawatts of electricity, providing roughly one-quarter of the Big Island’s daily energy demand.

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

The latest was a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant, overtaken by lava on Monday night, Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The building was owned by the state of Hawaii, and was used in geothermal research projects in the early days of the site.

Puna Geothermal, owned by Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. 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.

Founded in Yavne, Israel, Ormat is today headquartered in Nevada. Its main manufacturing facilities remain in Israel.

Native Hawaiians have long expressed frustration with the plant since it came online in 1989; they believe is built on sacred land. Goddess of fire, Pele, is believed to live on Kilauea volcano, and the plant itself is thought to desecrate her name. Other residents have voiced concerns over health and safety.

Scientists, however, say the conditions on Kilauea make it a good site for harnessing the earth for renewable energy.

“There’s heat beneath the ground if you dig deep enough everywhere,” said Laura Wisland, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. But in some places in the U.S. “it’s just hotter, and you can access the geothermal energy more easily.”

Geothermal energy is also considered a clean resource as it doesn’t generate greenhouse gas emissions, said Bridget Ayling, the director of Nevada’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy.

Ormat said in a May 15 statement that there was a low risk of surface lava making its way to the facility. The company also said there was no damage to the facilities above-ground and that it was continuing to assess the impact. The plant is expected to begin operating “as soon as it is safe to do so,” according to the statement.

Puna Geothermal represents about 4.5 percent of Ormat’s worldwide generating capacity. Last year, the Hawaii plant generated about $11 million of net income for the company. Ormat is traded on the New York and Tel Aviv stock exchange, and shares have fallen nearly 10 percent since Kilauea began erupting.

Scientists say lava from Kilauea is causing explosions as it enters the ocean, which can look like fireworks. When lava hits the sea and cools, it breaks apart and sends fragments flying into the air, which could land on boats in the water, said US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

Kilauea sparked new safety warnings on Monday about toxic gas on the Big Island’s southern coastline after lava flowing into the ocean set off a chemical reaction. Large steam plumes created lava haze, or “laze,” laced with hydrochloric acid and fine glass shards when it flowed into the sea.

It’s just the latest hazard from a weeks-old eruption that has so far generated earthquakes and featured gushing molten rock, giant ash plumes and sulfur dioxide. 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.

See also:
University of Hawaii animated Vog Map daily-hourly
Ea O Ka Aina: Kilauea Volcano 5/4/18
EA O Ka Aina: Volcanoes - Hawaii & Iceland 4/20/10


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