The photos and video offer a look at a new dimension in the volcano’s weeks-long eruption.
The volcano produces methane when hot lava buries and burns plants and trees. The gas flows through the ground and up through existing cracks. US Geological Survey scientist Jim Kauahikaua told reporters it’s just the second time he’s ever seen blue flames during an eruption. He says it was dramatic and eerie.
The methane can seep through cracks several feet away from the lava. Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall says the methane can cause explosions when it’s ignited while trapped underground. Blasts can toss rocks several feet.