Lava Lake Glow on Low Clouds

As the evening deepened and stratus clouds lowered over Kilauea caldera’s highly active Halemaumau Crater, the lava lake rose, at times splashing distant gobs of fountain lava above the plane of the visible rim.  That was an uncommon sight, and one we were fortunate to witness.  The distinctive orange glow of the lava shone brightly here, both in the stratus and in the plume of steam and acrid gas laden with sulfur dioxide (volcanic smog or “vog”) wafting off the lava lake itself before merging with the low clouds.  That is a volcanically forced convective plume, part of the eruption process, as it has been continuously since this episode started in early 2008.  Even given my earth-science familiarity with this situation, the sight registered to the appreciative right brain as otherworldly, beautifully primordial, transfixing, and fluidly artistic, conveying in an unspoken way the powerlessness of the person in the face of such forces.  No wonder native Hawaiians deified this as the home of their fire goddess Pele, and paid it a measure of fearful respect.  America’s largest island was built from this and many other eruptive openings like it.

3 WSW Volcano HI (28 Dec 17) Looking SSE
19.4197, -155.2881

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