KILAUEA LAVA ENTERS PUNA GEOTHERMAL VENTURE PLANT
On May 17, at approximately 4:15 a.m., an explosive eruption occurred at the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s big island, creating a plume of ash 30,000 feet into the air. The activity of Kilauea volcano has become destructive since early May, burning dozens of homes and forcing residents to flee. Many fissures have opened, spewing lava into neighborhoods and into the Pacific Ocean. Two thousand people have been evacuated due to the lava’s flow and release of toxic sulfur dioxide gas.
A small lava flow from fissure No. 22 has entered the grounds of Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV), a geothermal power plant located in the east rift zone of the volcano. The flow, which entered the PGV property, was heading toward the well pad located at the site, but stalled between 200 and 300 meters from the plant itself.
Authorities have been trying to mitigate the risk of a potential well-head blowout should lava hit the wells. Last week, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency initiated operations to kill three active wells by pumping cold water into them.
The plant’s wells are as deep as 8,000 feet and tap into extremely hot water and steam used to run turbines and produce electricity.
K?lauea is the youngest and southeastern most volcano on the Island of Hawai‘i. Topographically K?lauea appears as only a bulge on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa, and so for many years K?lauea was thought to be a mere satellite of its giant neighbor, not a separate volcano. However, research over the past few decades shows clearly that K?lauea has its own magma-plumbing system, extending to the surface from more than 60 km deep in the earth.
K?lauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983 and has caused considerable property damage, including the destruction of the town of Kalapana in 1990. (Source: Boston Globe, USGS – Image: NASA)
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