Youngblood Blog

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Volcanoes Can Be Friendly Neighbors

VOLCANIC GODDESS PELE IN CHARGE OF ISLAND

Natural road surfacing with new lava—Leilani Estates road gets another topping over weekend

A Shield Volcano as a Friend
Kilauea, in the southeastern part of Hawaii’s Big Island, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The sacred mountain—domain of fire and lightning goddess Pele—has been erupting on and off for hundreds of years—possibly thousands.

This particular episode, fueled by accompanying earthquakes and aftershocks, began late Thursday afternoon in Leilani Estates, a subdivision near the small town of Pahoa, a 30-minute drive south of Hilo.

Why is Kilauea Erupting Now?

Kilauea sends volcanic messages

“We don’t know enough detail about her internal plumbing to give really good answers to this question. The short answer is that a blob of new magma from deep below the volcano got injected up into the volcanic edifice.
“That, combined with Kilauea’s instability, has allowed the magma to erupt near Leilani Estates”
Tracy Gregg, Associate Professor of Geology University of Buffalo

Big Island Hawaii’s Kilauea has been erupting continuously for more than thirty years, but new background activity flared up significantly last week after a series of powerful earthquakes—Mag.6.9 and Mag.7.0—struck the island.

A dozen new volcanic fissures have since opened up on Kilauea’s flanks, and the combination of flowing lava and noxious sulphur and methane gas necessitated the evacuation of 1,500 residents.

USGS volcanologists had been monitoring the volcano’s southeast flank for months before last Thursday’s eruption, aware of its instability. “It will fall into the ocean someday,” said U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall.

How Long will This Episode Last?

Kilauea’s Pu’u O’o caldera erupting May 7th 2018, peppering Big Island, Hawaii’s SE coast with lava fissures

As one side of the mountain slowly tears itself away from the rest of the volcano, it creates an easy subterranean pathway for the magma—underground lava—to travel along.

“There’s more magma in the system still to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, this eruption will continue,” she said.

As lava oozes down steep slopes, it often breaks apart into a billowing avalanche of hot rock and gas, called a pyroclastic flow. Pyroclastic flows destroy anything in their path.

Lava flows have damaged areas around Kilauea for decades. Flows destroyed a visitor center at Kilauea in 1989 and overran the village of Kalapana on the volcano’s southeast flank in 1991.

Current residents of Leilani Estates have been evacuated, but allowed to return, while local agencies continue to monitor the furnace.

As lava inundates the heavily forested area outside Hilo, organic matter burns and releases methane. “That methane gas can get trapped in pockets beneath lava flows or underground and explode violently, throwing rocks and debris in every direction” said Ms. Stovall.

Fire Goddess Pele in Charge

Big island Hawaii’s SE coast lies within the precipitous lava field of Kilauea—currently erupting

Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and is considered among the top ten world’s most active volcanoes. In 2014 lava burned a house and overran the local cemetery in Pahoa, but this flow chose to stall outside the town this time, and has not crossed the road.

Eruptions of lava fountains continued through last week, leading geologists to prepare for further activity. “Because lava on Sunday was flowing farther than it did in the first days of the eruption, that means the magma supply is still present and shows signs of continuing”.

Flows are still moving quite slowly. USGS scientists were able to walk away from hot lava deposits fairly quickly. So far ten vents have developed within a 20-miles radius, and new fissures are expected.

Kilauea is a shield volcano—broad and domed with ten-mile wide sloping sides made up of liquid, gas-poor lava that does not explode. That contrasts sharply with a stratovolcano, such as Mount St. Helens, whose eruptions are made up of thick, sticky, gas-rich lava that explodes, creating ash.

Legend tells that goddess Pele journeyed in her canoe from the island of Tahiti to Hawaii. She tried to create her fires on different islands, but her sister, Namaka, was chasing her, trying to kill her. The two sisters fought and Pele was killed.

Hawaiians believe her body was destroyed, but her spirit lives on in the Halemaumau crater on Kilauea. “Her body is the lava and steam that comes from the volcano.”

She can also change form, appearing as a white dog, old woman, or beautiful young woman.

In addition to being goddess of volcanoes, Pele is known for her power, passion, jealousy, and capriciousness. She has multiple siblings, including Kāne Milohai, Kamohoaliʻi, Nāmaka and other sisters called Hiʻiaka—most famous being Hiʻiakaikapoliopele—Hiʻiaka in the bosom of Pele. Hawaiian mythology calls them to be the offspring of Haumea. Pele’s siblings include deities of various types of wind, rain, fire, ocean wave forms, and cloud forms. Her home is believed to be the fire pit called Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit caldera of Kīlauea. Her domain encompasses the whole volcanic field on Big Island.

Agencies, emergency services and first responders are active, continuing to keep the public safe, schools open. Local residents who have experienced lava episodes before, are patiently waiting for Pele, goddess of fire, wind and volcanoes, to give the Big Island a break.

Bless you Pele—and Hi’iakapoliopele, in your bosom. We’re believers.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

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May 11, 2018 - Posted by | ancient rites, belief, crystalline, culture, earth changes, energy, environment, nature, sacred sites, seismic, traditions, volcanic | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. This was so interesting. I like how you can see the bright side, natural road surfacing. Alright, Pele, give the islanders a break. Stay safe!

    Comment by Mary Aalgaard | May 12, 2018 | Reply

  2. It’s both fascinating and scary. So many people have been evacuated. I pray when it does blow, it’s not a big one.

    Comment by Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh) | May 12, 2018 | Reply


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