The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest of all the Hawaiian islands and it is also the youngest. Actually, Hawaii is still growing due to its volcanic activity. Hawaii island currently has two active eruptions happening as of now. One is a summit eruption located within the Kilauea caldera and the other one happens within it’s rift zone at Puu ‘Oo cone. Prior to 2008, scientists did not think it would be possible to witness two eruptions happening within one volcano. Well, well, well! Volcanologists are continually learning new things aren’t they. And, since I live on one of the world’s most active volcanoes, I am always learning new things as well. For instance, I learned several months ago that my beloved Pahoa town was going to be covered by lava. Yikes! As much I love hiking long distances to get close to lava, I dreaded the thought of lava traveling long distances to be close to me and the places I love.
For those of us who live on the volcanically active side of the island, the threat of lava is real and constant; but at least, we don’t expect to die from lava as these flows are fairly safe and generally move very slowly. Hawaiian lava flows typically move less than a kilometer per day on average; though, they can also move over 20 miles per hour. Thank goodness, they very rarely move that fast. The current lava flows which have been threatening the town of Pahoa since last fall still have not hit the highway yet. For several weeks we were all in a state of panic as we waited for the lava flows to cross the Highway. The newspapers predicted the flows would cross the highway within two weeks and the two more weeks, as the flows would get really close and then stop. Lower Puna residents currently live with the uncertainty of not knowing when the flows will come or where they will go exactly. This is definitely a major drawback to living in paradise; but for most of us who live here, we still love it and have no intentions of leaving. There is a Puna saying that says “Lava or Leave it”.
One of the greatest benefits to living on one of the world’s most active volcanoes is the almost constant supply of lava activity. Actually, many of us live here because we are lava enthusiasts.