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Lava Spatter Crushes Man's Leg in First Known Injury from Hawaii Volcano

22 May 2018

USGS Volcanoes says the clouds are what are known as laze plumes, formed when hot lava hits the ocean, creating hydrochloric acid and steam with tiny shards of volcanic glass into the air.

As it hits the water it creates a chemical reaction which makes risky gasses and tiny bits of glass.

"If one were to be near the laze, because of the various acids, it would be corrosive to the eyes, the nose and respiratory tract, and the skin", Dr. Alvin Bronstein from the Hawaii State Department of Health told journalists on a conference call.

The lava haze, or "laze", from the plume spread as far as 15 miles west of where the lava met the ocean on the Big Island's southern coast. Where the plume wafts depends heavily on wind direction and speed.

Over the past weeks Kīlauea has also spewed out large volcanic rocks from its summit crater, as well as large amounts of ash.

At least 44 homes and other structures have been destroyed in the Leilani Estates and Laipuna Gardens area of the Puna district, and a man was seriously injured on Saturday when a plate-sized chunk of molten shot out of a fissure and struck him on the leg.

Geologists say the volcano is now pushing out a new kind of lava.

A man was also hit by lava splatter, shattering his leg from his shin to his foot.

Scientists explained that is because the lava which first erupted was magma left over from a 1955 eruption which had been stored in the ground for the past six decades.

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Early on Monday (Tuesday NZT), a small eruption occurred at the Kilauea summit, producing an ash plume that reached about 2100m. Winds carried much of the ash toward the southwest.

WATCH: There have been some unsafe developments on Hawaii's Big Island over the weekend, as lava from the Mount Kilauea volcano has blocked a major highway.

Officials want residents in the remote and rural area of the Big Island to heed evacuation warnings.

Laze itself is not enough to cause serious burns, Babb said, unless someone is right on top of where lava enters the ocean.

The injury came the same day that lava began streaming across a highway and flowing into the ocean.

Since the eruption, over 2,000 residents of Hawaii have been ordered to evacuate, according to CBS.

Over the weekend the lava began to move more quickly and emerge from the ground in greater volumes.

Scientists do not know how long this eruption episode, which began May 3, will last. The volcano has opened more than 20 vents, including four that have merged into one large crack. It has been gushing lava high into the sky and sending a river of molten rock toward the ocean at about 300 yards per hour.

"We've seen the clearing out of the system", she said. The tourism industry is still in full swing, and the island's airports remain open.

Lava Spatter Crushes Man's Leg in First Known Injury from Hawaii Volcano