Category Archives: Volcanoes

Hurricanes and tsunamis and …

We’ve been brushed by hurricane skirts the past week or so, bringing flooding to downtown Kailua-Kona and flash-flood warnings elsewhere; an earthquake in Chili spawned a tsunami advisory, and somebody started muttering about how maybe all we needed to make it a three-some was some action from the volcano goddess. Me, I’m not worried because

Pele is a friend of mine,
I bring her rum and Coke,
and sometimes if she’s so inclined
we sit and share a toke.
I know she’s fond of me because
she sends me stinky smoke
and rumbles gently underground
to let me know we’re folk.


Aeolus in Hawaii

I just came in from the lanai: today was spectacular, starting with a fierce, warm wind that blew the clouds away and left the day drenched in sunshine and warmth. Toward evening the wind died down and the sun fell into a series of clouds, turning them peach and pink and golden, and the temperature finally dropped out of the high 70s. When I wasn’t listening to Bach (today’s his birthday, JC Bach I mean, not his huge number of talented sons), I was listening to the voice of the wind in the ‘ohia trees.

Apparently where I live lies at the mercy of both the Trades, which blow from the north, and the Kona winds, which blow from the south. The Trade Winds are big-bellied and blustery, but today’s Kona winds swept away clouds and haze and the vog that seems to gather on the lower slopes, and swept the vog north to Oahu. The result was a day of such clarity that I could see whitecaps on the Pacific all the way out until the horizon line slid into the sky.

Vog: Wikipedia says that “Vog is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a portmanteau of the words “volcanic” and “smog“. The term is in common use in the Hawaiian islands, where the Kīlauea volcano, on Hawaiʻi Island (aka “The Big Island”), has been erupting continuously since 1983. Based on June 2008 measurements, Kīlauea emits 2,000 – 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide every day.”

Sounds pretty awful, but I haven’t noticed any adverse affects from it so far. My sister tells me that every so often Madame Pele cuts a big one, and everyone can smell the sulfer — but I haven’ experienced that yet, either.



Where the lava I’ll be living on comes from.

The USGS maintains a website of useful information on the Big Island, with particular reference to (guess what?) volcanoes. I’ve been fascinated by volcanoes since I wrote a paper on them for a junior high school science class, so I guess it’s not too odd that I’m going to  be living on the flanks of one.

Volcanic and Seismic Hazards on the Island of Hawaii: Table of Contents.

volcano usgs_adip_1_3_12_471

That science class, by the way, must have been in the very early 60s. What I remember most clearly about it was arguing with the scary teacher about whether the indent of Africa and the bump of South America had something to do with each other. He told me I was a brainless girl. Years later, when plate tectonics became an accepted theory, I wanted to find him and laugh — but found that I was still scared of him! He paddled the boys and looked down the fronts of the girls’ blouses, and was all together a bad, bad man.