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Produced by Donald B. MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donnie MacGowan; original musical score by Donnie MacGowan.

Aloha! I’m Donnie MacGowan, I live on the Big Island of Hawaii where, as luck would have it, we have a number of active and dormant volcanoes. Right now, even as we speak, our Kilauea Volcano, the world’s most active volcano, is erupting in two places simultaneously…if you love volcanoes as much as I do, you know that’s pretty sweet.

In the past few years I’ve made several videos of the eruptions from Pu’u O’o and vents further down the Southeast Rift zone, of lava flowing down the pali and entering the ocean, most recently at Waikupanaha. But today I’d like to take you to the other eruption, the one at the summit of Kilauea within the Halema’uma’u crater. It’s amazing, captivating, awesome. It’s as if the door to the Goddess Pele’s home had been left ajar…

Unlike the fountaining littoral explosions down at Waikupanaha, the eruptive vent at the summit of Kilauea Volcano appears quieter but is certainly no less spectacular. Earlier this August when lava stopped flowing into the ocean in Puna, disappointed tourists were dismayed that this eruption might be their only chance of seeing a live volcano, figuring it might be pretty tame and passive. Ho-ho! Come the night time, Madame Pele puts on a show in her own home that is entrancing, beautiful and inspiring. The eruption at Halema’uma’u may be second best to seeing lava flow into the ocean, but it’s a very, very close second. If this is the only volcanic eruption you ever get to witness in person, it’s a fully awesome, amazingly powerful and spiritual experience. The eruption consists of a huge, roiling plume of gas, steam and ash issuing from hole exploded out of the base of the southeast wall of the crater. The hole and the plume glow wickedly in the dark like the portal to Hades itself.
Earlier in the spring, this vent on Halema’uma’u ejected a great deal of rocks and dust, as if clearing its throat; some bombs and spatter apparently were molten or near-molten at the time of their eruption. Currently, Kilauea is erupting huge amounts of sulfur dioxide and water vapor with very small amounts of ash, prompting the Park Service to close the south part of Kīlauea caldera and Crater Rim Drive to the public and issue occasional air quality alerts for areas adjacent to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Current eruption updates are available by calling the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Information Hotline at 808.985.6000.

According to recent information from the U.S Geological Survey, the fact that the composition of the gases from Pu`u `Ō `ō and Halema`uma`u appear quite similar may indicate that lava throughout Kīlauea has been recently recharged with new magma from depth.

Further, the USGS suggests that the decrease in hot solid material ejecta concomitant with the steady summit gas emissions may indicate either that magma is receding or that the plumbing and conduits of the vent have become choked off from the surface. This could be due to a mix of rock debris, spatter and ash accumulating in the vent. Molten rock seems to lie just a few hundred feet below the surface of Halema’uma’u crater; however, if the molten rock is in fact retreating, the pool left behind will rapidly cool to a semi-plastic plug.

If the vent plug cools for a substantial amount of time, summit activity will eventually die out and life around Halema’uma’u crater will return to its inter-eruptive, “normal” state. Until the next time fresh, hot magma rises into the volcano, that is.
Man…I could watch this all day, couldn’t you?

This is Donnie MacGowan sending you a warm aloha from the slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii…


Produced by Donald B. MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donnie MacGowan; original musical score by Donnie MacGowan.

For more information about visiting Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com

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