The biggest problem with volcanoes is that nobody can say with 100% certainty if and when they are going to blow.
Under construction, please pardon the dust!
Mauna Kea (White Mountain)
Near to my home stands Mauna Kea. Measured from its base below the level of the sea, this dormant volcano is the largest on earth rising 4,000 feet higher than Mt. Everest. Since humans first came to the Hawaiian Islands, Mauna Kea has exerted a powerful spiritual magnetism. At the summit, native Hawaiians can be found performing sacred chants and kahikos (strenuous dance) while overlooking the gigantic telescopes owned and operated by 11 countries worldwide. Its last eruption occurred about 4500 years ago. I suppose astronomers feel they are safe for the time being.
Mauna Kea Observatory ~ above the clouds!
On a particular August eve in 2003, I watched from the summit of Mauna Kea as a celestial phenomenon occurred. Mars reached its apex in the sky, one thumbnail to the left of the hugely full moon (The Pearl of the Earth). It had come closest to the earth than ever before and would not be seen again by the naked eye for many thousands of years to come:
with the Pearl of the Earth
in command of the night,
oh my good and gracious God
what a glorious sight,
standing here drenched
in your magnificent light!
countless planets, even more stars,
one so near the Pearl can only be Mars.
thousands and thousands of years will pass,
before eyes can ever again know,
the nearness of Mars to the Pearls
everlasting glow! ~
The 5 Volcanoes of the Big Island
Legends say that the Big Island of Hawaii (approx in size to the state of Connecticut) is the home of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Using fiery lava, Pele shaped and formed her beloved islands. Ancient Hawaiians paid their respects to the goddess by presenting offerings to please her or placate her wrath.
Pele lives on in the form of Hawaii’s five volcanoes. One is extinct, another is dormant and the remaining three are categorized as active.
The oldest is Kohala Volcano, which is believed to have emerged from the sea more than 500,000 years ago. Over the centuries, lava flows from its two neighbors, the much larger Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes, have buried a portion of Kohala. Today, Kohala is considered to be an extinct volcano.
Mauna Kea is the tallest of Hawaii’s volcanoes; in fact, standing at 13,796 feet, it is the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the floor of the ocean to its summit). Mauna Kea is considered a dormant volcano, having last erupted about 4,500 years ago.
Hualalai on the Big Island’s western side is the third-youngest of the island’s volcanoes. The 1700s, scientists say, were a period of significant volcanic activity for Hualalai, with six different vents spewing lava, two of which produced lava flows that reached the ocean. The Kona International Airport is built atop the larger of the two flows.
Extending from the Big Islands northwest region near Waikoloa to the entire southwest and to the east near Hilo, Mauna Loa (“Long Mountain”) covers about half of the island. It is the world’s largest volcano. It’s also considered one of the most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since 1843. Its most recent eruption occurred in 1984. Scientists believe that Mauna Loa is certain to erupt again.
Finally, there is Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. It has been spewing lava continuously since January 1983. Situated near the southeastern section of the Big Island, Kilauea was once considered a part of Mauna Loa. Subsequent research, however, showed that Kilauea has its own magma-plumbing system
A map of the moon should be in every geological lecture room; for no where can we have a more complete or more magnificent illustration of volcanic operations. Our sublimest volcanoes would rank among the smaller lunar eminences; and our Etna’s are but spitting furnaces. ~ James Dana
a very rare glimpse of volcanic activity on one of the four moons of Jupiter
Under us, and stretching away before us, was a heaving sea of molten fire of seemingly limitless extent…At unequal distances all around the shores of the lake were nearly white-hot chimneys or hollow drums of lava, four or five feet high, and up through them were bursting gorgeous sprays of lava-gouts and gem spangles, some white, some red and some golden – a ceaseless bombardment, and one that fascinated the eye with its unapproachable splendor. The more distant jets, sparkling up through an intervening gossamer veil of vapor, seemed miles away; and the further the curving ranks of fiery mountains receded, the more fairy-like and beautiful they appeared. ~ Mark Twain at Kilauea in 1866
Not on Mubi: I’m hoping Werner Herzog has been filming Eyajfjallajokull. The volcano gods were uncooperative when he missed out at La Soufriere volcano in the ’70’s.
Volcano – ‘97,’53,‘42
Vulcano – ’50
*Dante’s Peak* – ‘97
Journey to the Center of the Earth – ’59, Henry Levin
Demons – ’90
Mount Fuji in Red – ’90
When Time Runs Out – ’80, James Goldstone
Krakatoa East of Java – ’69 (badly named , as the volcano is west of Java)
Crack in the World – ’65
*The Devil at 4 O’Clock* – ’61
The Last Days of Pompeii – ’97
A few favorite Volcano Documentaries
Mt. Ararat, Iran