There is something about an erupting volcano that reminds me of both Dante’s Inferno and the beginning of the world. It is both fascinating and terrifying to see fire that does not go out, that builds new land.
Kilauea is currently the most active volcano on earth. It is one of five shield volcanoes that are still forming the island of Hawaii, know more familiarly as the Big Island. Kilauea has erupted 45 times in the 20th century, with the current eruption beginning in 1983. In March 2008 an explosive event that scattered rock over a 75-acre area was accompanied by the increase of sulfur dioxide gas that has closed much of the crater rim drive.
I first saw Kilauea with Charlie in 1979 when the volcano was relatively dormant. A few years ago Bob and I took a helicopter flight that enabled us to see the molten lava flowing across the seared landscape before exploding into the ocean. This year Bob’s conference on the Big Island gave us an opportunity to see the volcano from the ground. From Volcanoes National Park a park ranger directed us to drive about an hour to an area where we could see the lava pouring into the ocean. We arrived about an hour before sunset, walked 3/4 of a mile across hardened lava and watched as the huge steam plume created water spouts. But the real show happened after sunset when we could see the glow of the lava itself reflected in the steam. The image above was taken after dark.
Image taken January 2009.