Nature's fury on full display as fountains of lava gush from Hawaii volcano

PAHOA, Hawaii -- There are spectacular images of a new danger on Hawaii's Big Island: rising from rivers of lava, blue flames fueled by methane gas that could potentially explode.

Nature's fury is on full display as fountains of lava continue to gush in communities hardest hit by this volcanic disaster.

It's like a scene from the dawn of time when the world was remade over and over. You can feel the heat and the power of a volcanic eruption that shows no sign of slowing down.

Rare images of the blue flames show a new danger. They're a tell-tale sign of highly combustible methane gas, the result of lava burning plants and trees beneath the surface. Officials are concerned the methane will cause explosions if it's ignited while trapped underground.

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At Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, eerie blue flames indicate the presence of methane gas.

CBS News

This is one of four active fissures here in Leilani Estates. In the middle, there's a fast moving river of lava and an enormous lava lake that surrounds it. The lava is coming out at 2,100 degrees.

Not a drop of lava has touched Shantel Pacarro's home. It's been destroyed by a massive crack running through her property. She's just grateful her family is OK.

"We can always rebuild as long as we have each other -- that's the most important thing," Pacarro said. 

Scientists say steam explosions are happening about twice a day at Kilauea's main crater, producing ash plumes up to 10,000 feet high. 

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.