Little Lava


Is this a long story? ‘Cause all I really want is that cookie.

Some of you have inquired if the recent volcano eruptions in Hawaii posed any threat to Max’s family or friends.

The short answer is “no”. Although we have some family and friends who live on the Big Island in the town of Volcano, that village is actually upslope of Kilauea and not threatened except for possible gas drifting into town if the wind blows just right, uh, wrong, uh, North.


The media has made much of the eruptions and not all the impressions are 100% accurate. To be sure, dozens have lost homes, many more have experienced damage and there’s no end in sight to eruption-related problems because those pesky volcanoes just refuse to be predictable.

But we’re not talking about an apocalyptic event. Sensation, rather than accuracy, seems to be fueling some of the news reports.

To establish perspective, keep in mind that the area affected by the movement of liquid rock is a small chunk of the Big Island’s 4,000 square miles and the folks impacted (mostly in Leilani Estates) are, in total, about 1% of the near 200,000 island residents. Of course the gasses and environmental impacts are more extensive.

Here is a great depiction of reality versus myth regarding the lava flows. I don’t remember where I got it from:


The area threatened by lava is actually a small piece of a big island.


Most local folk accept that these events are simply the natural order. For Hawaiian people this is a manifestation of the volcano “goddess” Pele creating new land.

In ancient chants, Pele is called described as “She Who Shapes The Sacred Land.” To Hawaiians, Pele is all about creation, not destruction.

While the displacements caused by the flows are inconvenient at best and potentially deadly at worst, this is, after all, how Hawaii was created and how it continues to evolve.


Photo taken of the lava flow from space on May 24th. The area matches that shown on the map , above. Image credit to NASA.

Of course, economic and other factors have in recent years led to many more people building homes in areas that are susceptible to volcanic destruction. During TV interviews, many of the newcomers appear shocked and surprised that the eruptions began while locals and long term residents understand that this is the case of an inevitable cycle of nature coming to pass.

In other words, it’s sad for those who have suffered loss but them’s the breaks when you build on the side of an active volcano. Anyone who says “I never thought this could happen to my house” whilst standing on one of the world’s most active volcanoes runs the real risk of being called a babooze and that’s not a compliment.

Go ahead, Max, you can have your cookie now.




27 replies

  1. Thanks for putting all this in perspective, Tom. What you are saying is what we say here about those who build a house on the beach knowing they are absolutely in harm’s way when (not IF) a hurricane comes through. But I still feel so bad for those whose dreams and dream homes are gone.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. To a certain degree, it is like here in New Zealand with earthquakes. They are part of the landscape and living here. Most people here will not get out of bed for much under a 6 or 7 point. New Zealand porn is a website called geonet that records earthquakes, We live in rural New Zealand and as the crow flies about 50 k from Mt Ruapehu (an active volcano) and in turn Lake Taupo, the site of the world.s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years. This supervolcano is kinda just up the road from Ruapehu. Just part of living on the ring of fire.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know Mt. Ruapehu and the region from a time in the 1990s when I was assigned to work in Auckland for an extended period and would spend weekends up at Lake Taupo extracting monster-size trout. Ruapehu is actually far, far more dangerous than Kilauea because it is a stratovolcano instead of a shield volcano lie those in Hawaii. You get those nice steep sides and classic volcano shapes but those stratos really explode from time to time! So what do NZ pups, maremmas included, think about earthquakes? So far, Max has slept through the little ones we’ve gotten here. Also, again my condolences and thoughts on the passing of Jasper.


  3. When we were tourists this past August, staying in Kona for a week and driving to Hilo side for a day trip that included a stop at Jaggerz Observation site and all the usual natural attractions Pele has crafted in Volcanoes National Park, we thought how chancy it would be living downside of that bubbling lava pit, Maxwell.
    I’m glad to get your perspective of the size of the calamity in relationship to the Big Island as a whole.
    News coverage back here on the mainland tends a bit toward the left-side map.
    Have a good Memorial Day Weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Bravo to you for setting the record straight. My son in Kona is gnashing his teeth about the “sensation rather than accuracy” aspect of this story (as well as others come to think of it) currently captivating the news media. Perhaps if enough of us complain they will stop covering the salacious, scintillating stories 24/7 that keep redirecting the daily narrative. That said, please give that poor starving pup his cookie. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I thought I had left a comment…but we all know what thought did…
    It was good to have the thing put in perspective as from the press you would believe that the whole island was in danger.
    I feel sorry for the people who have lost their houses, though. I just hope that they were not led by the nose by unscrupulous developers as happens here….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just now folks are starting to think back about the permits and approvals that allowed 700-900 homes on 1 acre lots to be built on the down slope from a caldera that has been in a state of eruption to one extent or another for over 30 years. Well, duh. Turns out there may have been some political campaign contributions involved, just maybe. It’s a tad suspicious because other better located, safer development projects have been rejected but Leilani Estates was approved as if by magic. As one local journo asked, “If private firms will not issue insurance on these homes, exactly why is the State approving the permits.” Island mysteries!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Par for the course….
        Here, years ago, volcan Poas was very active, causing those downwind of it to move elsewhere sharpish.
        The land value dropped through the floor and a developer took up big swathes of it, sitting on it until the big gringo boom made it possible to sell it off in lots to people who thought that a volcano – then just brooding after its strenuous activities – made a beautiful neighbour.
        Poas has woken up again and the upmarket ‘built to American standards’ houses are up for sale in droves….advertised as being situated in one of the best climates of the world.
        Local authorities here only recently realised the monetary value of planning permission…but they are throwing themselves into the game with enthusiasm..

        Liked by 1 person

  6. “Sensation rather than accuracy, seems to be fueling…” MOST news reports about everything these days. Thanks for putting the lava story in perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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