Kilauea II: Roots of the Hawaiian Islands

In my previous article, here, I discussed how Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes are connected to each other through the Pahala Swarm. Now I have to deal with a confrontation of theories that is inevitable. There is a classical model of how Hawaii works. It is all about the mantle plume. The classical view establishes…

Kilauea I: Magma waves from the phantom rift

Each volcano is an expression of a magma architectural construction, a great sculpture of chambers, pipes and sills, as intricate as an ant colony, or rather like the roots of a plant. This is all hidden away from our view, under kilometres or tens of kilometres of rock that makes it impossible for us to…

The Kilauea 2020 eruption – reading tea leaves

This is a strange end to a strange year. Kilauea erupting without even HVO noticing it until the lava was flowing, Etna exploding into life, and even New Zealand trying to get in on the action. And we were complaining that nothing was happening and we had to live off the glories of Christmas past…

Seas of Hawaiʻi

Hawai’i is an amazing place. And not just for volcanologists. This is a world-on-an-island, with (apart from the most accessible eruptions in the world) Mars-sized mountains, pristine beaches, coral reefs, a world class city for shopaholics and night owls, rain forest with world-class mosquitos, desert, archaeology, astronomy, volcanoes, agriculture, flying fish and diving birds. It…

Birds on volcanic islands: a study in social isolation

It was on a hike to Mauna Ulu, many years ago. The path from the Pu’u Huluhulu trail head had been easy to follow – at first. It quickly left the shrubby vegetation near the road behind, and the scenery became one of total devastation. The markings of the path became fewer and fewer. Once,…

The Wandering Earth: mantle in motion

It is nice to live on the crust. It gives a degree of stability which the rest of the Earth lacks. It is not perfect: the quiet can be punctuated by earthquakes or volcanoes, and lacking those there is still the off-chance of a landslip or flood. The atmosphere may also interfere with our lives.…

A Christmas eruption

Kilauea has become a different volcano. For 30 years, the summit was a passive participant in the seemingly ever-lasting Pu’u’O’o eruption. But nothing volcanic lasts forever, and 2018 was the year that proved this. A blockage near (or in) Pu’u’O’o caused the pressure in the rift to increase, the east rift gave way, and magma…

Eruptions to come

Let’s start with a question. Which country do you think has the most frequent volcanic eruptions? Before you read on (or peek below for the answer), take a minute to think about it. You can probably guess that Australia is not a front runner. In fact, only two or three countries readily come to mind.…

A volcano year

This is the time of the year when people like to look back. What was the year like? Good or bad – or, as is almost always the case, a bit of a mix? And if looking back is not your thing, newspapers run columns where specialists (of varying level of expertise) are given a…

The air we breath: the sulfur smell of volcanoes

“The sun became dark and its darkness lasted for one and a half years… Each day it shone for about four hours and still this light was only a feeble shadow… the fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes.” Michael the Syrian, about a 6th century eruption It smells. Sulfur is…