Bright orange lava can be seen spewing, continuously and forcefully, from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano in dramatic footage being livestreamed from Civil Beat, a Honolulu news site.
The ongoing fountains of lava are seen gushing out of volcanic fissures in Lower Puna as the volcano enters day 20 of ongoing eruptions.
The site’s video chief said he was holed up in a hillside for three days to capture the spectacular images, which were being watched by thousands across the country.
The footage comes as the lava threatens a geothermal power plant. Civil Beat’s Anthony Quintano called it a “surreal experience.” If lava reaches the plant, toxic gases could fill the air.
The activity comes as workers at a geothermal power plant on Hawaii's Big Island raced to close off production wells that are now threatened by lava. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said that 10 wells at the Puna Geothermal Venture were "quenched" by cooling them with cold water to take the pressure of the volcanic steam rising from below the ground.
"All wells are stable at this point," the governor said.
The last well was plugged with mud, because it had remained hot despite the infusion of water, according to Ige. Metal plugs in the wells, which run as deep as 8,000 feet underground, are an additional stopgap measure.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Thomas Travis told KHON that even if there is some leakage, what comes out of the wells is "not going to be much" of a public safety impact.
"The wells are much safer with two valves shut on top than with valves open and a plug halfway in and us having to abandon the site to avoid SO2 (sulfur dioxide) or, as less of a probability, lava," he told KHON.
Travis admitted to the television station that while crews are confident in their plan to plug the wells to prevent toxic gases from seeping out, they are entering a situation not seen before.
"I have researched this and again, I'm not going to overstate my knowledge. I have no case in which lava has overrun a well that has been shut down like these have been," he said.
Lava from a nearby, new volcanic vent entered, then stalled, on the 815-acre property where the Puna Geothermal Venture wells occupy about 40 acres. 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.
A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. Officials, however, have not discussed specific scenarios that would lead to such an emergency.