Pahoehoe Lava

November 28, 2014

Kalapana Lava1

2010 Kalapana lava flow 4

Photographer: Mila Zinkova; Mila's Web site
Summary AuthorMila Zinkova

The Puu Oo vent on the Big Island of Hawaii is only about 20 mi (32 km) from the city of Hilo, the largest settled area on the island. Puu Oo (meaning hill of the Oo bird in Hawaiian) has been erupting non-stop on the Big Island since 1983; changing landscapes, adding new land and sometimes destroying houses, roads and cemeteries. The smoke in the background of the top photo is coming from the Puu Oo vent, but what about the strange and beautiful lava in the foreground (shown in more detail on the bottom photo)? This is actually one of the many designs of pahoehoe lava. The crust of this lava solidifies while interior portions of the flow remain molten. In this case, the solidified crust was still somewhat ductile and folded before fully solidifying to form a pattern similar to that of a rug pushed into a corner. The lava pictured here was created in 2010, but it won't maintain this appearance very long. Within in a few more years the peculiar black lacy look will be destroyed by erosion, by growing vegetation or by a new lava flow. Photo taken on October 7, 2014.

Photo details: Top - Camera Model: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS; Focal Length: 9.4mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0050 s (1/200); ISO equiv: 100; Bottom - same except: Focal Length: 7.1mm; Aperture: f/4.0; Exposure Time: 0.0025 s (1/400); ISO equiv: 200.