Hawaii volcano spawns new fissure near geothermal plant

Visitors are reflected in the window of the Jaggar Museum as they view Kilauea's summit crater in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, Thursday, May 10, 2018. The park is closing Friday due to the threat of an explosive volcanic eruption. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

VOLCANO, Hawaii - Hawaii's Kilauea volcano spawned a new lava fissure Saturday, emitting minor lava spatter less than a mile from a geothermal energy plant.

The U.S. Geological Survey said 16 fissures have now opened up on the Big Island. The latest arose around 6:45 a.m. about 1 mile (1.6 kilometre) northeast of the last fissure in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood.

Scientists said the lava flow forming in the crack has been minor, but that could always change.

"The fissure itself is small," said USGS scientist Janet Babb. "As it was described to me, it is so small it could hardly be called a fissure."

Babb said the fissure is about eight-tenths of a mile east of the Puna Geothermal Venture plant.

As a precaution, plant workers this week removed 50,000 gallons of pentane stored at the site.

Geologists warn that Kilauea could shoot out large boulders and ash out of its summit crater. But scientists concurred that Hawaii is safe for visitors.

Hawaii tourism officials are hoping Kilauea's eruption won't deter travellers from visiting the state's largest island, even as geologists warn the volcano could soon shoot large boulders out of its summit.

Travel industry executives note most of the Big Island is free of eruption threats from Kilauea, which began spurting lava into a residential neighbourhood last week.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a major disaster exists on the Big Island. The move will make federal financial assistance available to state and local governments as they repair roads, public parks, schools and water pipes damaged by the eruption.


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