When lava buries plants and shrubs, methane gas is produced as a byproduct of burning vegetation.
"It's very dramatic. It's very eerie", Jim Kauahikaua, a USGS scientist, told the Associated Press.
Blue flames of methane gas escape from a crack near a volcanic fissure from Kilauea in Leilani Estates, on Hawaii's Big Island, on Wednesday.
The gas can cause underground explosions that can toss hot lava several feet in the air.
The possibility of an air evacuation is emerging as a real possibility because scientists know that lava has been passing beneath Highway 130 along the East Rift Zone and surfacing in areas in and around Leilani Estates since the eruption began on May 3. Since May 3, over a dozen fissures have opened up along the east rift zone of the Kilauea volcano, destroying almost 50 structures.
Plumes of steam rise as lava enters the ocean near Pahoa, Hawaii.
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Late on Saturday, a fast-flowing stream of lava pouring from one of the active fissures also reached Highway 137, which hugs the island's eastern coast.
Despite the epic imagery, Kilauea's recent activity is a blip when compared to its previous episodes since 1983, when the current eruption technically began.
Authorities are urging people to stay away from areas where lava meets the ocean because of its hazards. Gases, especially sulfur dioxide, and other fumes are being released and these have caused breathing difficulties for people who have inhaled them, but again these problems are confined to the immediate vicinity of Kilauea.
Stovall said lava spatter from one vent was forming a wall that was helping protect a nearby geothermal plant.
Underscoring the eruption's dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend said the molten rock almost sheared his leg in half.
Earlier this month officials removed a flammable gas called pentane from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions.
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