Sunday, November 26, 2006

More on HI

After my mom went home, I had another 2.5 weeks in Hawaii visiting the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. It was a nice visit, I had a lot of time to chat with the scientists there and with the volunteers. HVO would grind to a halt I suspect if it weren't for the volunteers, most of whom seem to be recent college grads and who work for free. I think they should at least be called interns and given minimum wage, it feels like the government is exploiting them. The volunteers were so happy when I gave them my leftover food and one of them said he would pick up the recycling at my house so he could get the deposits! Moreover, I think HVO's reliance on volunteers is a big reason why they don't have a lot of grad students hanging around; I would have thought the place would have at least a couple grad students from UH working there. Grad students would stick around for a couple years and publish papers with HVO scientists, which would be good for the Observatory. Anyway, enough of that.

During my stay abby and nick came to visit. I went back to the Lae'puki lava entry with them and this time we hiked out as far as the rope barrier that the park service put up. As you can see by comparing the photo below with the one from the previous post, we were quite a bit closer.

It started to sprinkle while we were out there, so nick suggested we head back. I thought it would pass, but within 20 minutes we were in the middle of a huge downpour. Then the thunder and lightening started. The lava rock was so black it was impossible to see any definition outside the range of our headlamps, then there would be a flash of lightening that would blind us for a second. It was so easy to take a mistep that it was like playing freeze when I was little; when the lightening struck I would just stop, midstep or whatever. Luckily none of us were struck by lightening, but we were soaked down to our socks. The next morning, the backseat in A and N's rental car was still wet where I had sat during the ride back home. I hope there wasn't a butt shaped mold spot when they returned it.

The next day you would never have known it had been rainy, we had beautiful weather for our hike out to a green sand beach.

The sand is green because it is made of olivine fragments. When the surrounding lava rocks are eroded to form sand, the lighter basalt is carried away by wave action and the heavier olivine crystals are left behind, creating an almost all olivine beach. abmatic has more pics on her site.