Hawaii volcano produces blue flames from methane

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Scientists in Hawaii have captured rare images of blue methane flames burning from cracks in the pavement as Kilauea volcano gushes lava in the background.

The building was owned by the state of Hawaii.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said a warehouse adjacent to the Puna plant was hit by the molten lava yesterday.

More than 10,000 residents have been evacuated since the volcanic activity began, due to Kilauea opening up 22 fissures that have leaked slow-moving lava and risky sulphur dioxide.

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Hawaii County officials say lava from active fissures near the Puna plant has destroyed an old warehouse site that was used in early research and development. The plant harnesses heat and steam from the earth's core to spin turbines to generate power.

Almost 50 structures have been destroyed by lava, including dozens of homes. Earlier this month they removed a flammable gas called pentane from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.

The photos and video offer a look at a new dimension in the volcano's weeks-long eruption.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Mike Poland says there are near continuous low-level ash emissions from the summit.

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Accumulations of cooled, hardened lava created a thick, 30-foot (9.14-metre) high wall of solid volcanic rock channelling fresh lava streams from fissures to the south, away from the PGV plant, USGS scientists said.

The lava has now spread towards the south coast and spewed into the Pacific Ocean, which has resulted in laze.

That prompted safety warnings about toxic gas on the Big Island's southern coastline.

Another cruise ship has skipped a call at Hawaii's Big Island due to the recently intensified eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

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The molten rock started pouring into the sea over the weekend. Later that night, the lava entered the ocean, producing spectacular - and deadly - plumes, and officials advised all people to avoid the area because of a new hazard: laze. Although potentially fatal if inhaled, Stovall said the danger was confined to the immediate vicinity of laze plumes themselves.

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