Eruption of Mount Kilauea
By Emma Coyle
Hawaii is inescapably known as the home of volcanos; visitors just as frequently visit the lava fields as they do the beaches. Recently Mount Kilauea, located on the Big Island, became explosive. Considered one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world, Mount Kilauea has been in a constant state of eruption for thirty-five years but this last month it has been forcing residents to abandon their homes as lava flows push their way down to the sea. Kilauea is considered the home of Pele, the volcano goddess, and each explosion is a symbol of her “wrath and anguish”.
There is a reason why people go to see this volcano, despite the danger, and why images of the eruption have been populating the pages of the internet from news sites to social media. It is beautiful in its horror. People are homeless and all anyone can do is stare transfixed at the power and majesty of this natural event. Isn’t it remarkable what the environment can do? Something so beyond human control. Perhaps that is why it is all the more enthralling. No one can say what will happen, when it will stop, what damage it will thrust upon those in its path.
In these images by Jean-François BEGUE you can see the bright vibrant lava against the darkened landscape, it stands out and it becomes difficult to look at any thing else. Eyes gravitate back to focus on the overwhelming might of nature. The glowing reds and yellows become abstracted even though its context never wavers. It is lava and it is always lava but for a moment it also becomes gems, or those bright trails seen after looking at the sun in the summer. It lingers in the same way.
There is no way to know when the aggression of the eruption will fizzle out and no way to stop it. There are only ways to minimize the effects with human will and effort. Nature is unpredictable and when it decides to act, all people can do is appreciate it. This is where myths and stories and beliefs come from that structure the world.
We are weeks into this explosion and everything is threatened from homes to the Puna Geothermal Venture power plant that supplies a quarter of the electricity that the island relies on. Thankfully the path it has taken has been diverted with teams armed with cold water and the volcanos hardened lava establishing paths around the plant. But the danger is not averted while ash is still falling thickly from the sky and sulfur dioxide leaks from fissures.