Cooled Lava Hellscape

Fissure #8.

Wow, for the third time this month (third time in a week) I’ve realized the day calls for a post I hadn’t planned. The first time was when the MLB delayed the baseball season. The second time — the very next day — was Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday.

This time it’s the equinox (and a friend’s birthday; shout out!). For those of us in the northern hemisphere it’s the spring (vernal) equinox, and that’s my favorite of the four annual solar node points (two equinoxes; two solstices). It means we have a whole half a year of light ahead.

So I just had to post something.

The word vernal means spring, which in general we have long used as a metaphor for birth and new life. (You know about the whole Maypole thing, yes?)

The very idea of spring is evocative. It’s a season of new life, but all sorts of things spring forth, even ideas. (Another kind of spring brings forth new water.)

Just as Christmas was deliberately aligned with the winter solstice celebration (a huge pagan party!), Easter — the Resurrection — was aligned with the spring celebration (another huge pagan party).

Of the four annual solar node points I mentioned, those are the two worth celebrating. They are the two good ones.

The solstice means the days will finally start getting long again. (“Hooray! The Star Dragon isn’t going to eat the sun completely. It’ll grow back! We’re going to live!”)

The vernal equinox means plants start growing again and hibernating animals wake up. (“Hooray! There’s going to be new food again and we can stop eating old moldy stuff. We’re going to live!”)

§ §

Back in 2018 I became absolutely enthralled by the Kīlauea volcano eruption.

[See: Kilauea, Hawaii, USA: Wow! and 2018: Hawaii Gets Bigger!]

As it turned out, it was a historical event. It started that April (in the spring!) and covered over 13 square miles with lava by early August when it abruptly ended. Spilling into the ocean at the coastline, it added almost 900 acres of new land to the big island.

It’s been quiet since, although the underground heat lingers and causes problems as it spreads through the ground evaporating ground water.


So two years ago, in the spring, lava was about to spring forth from the ground in devastating amounts. Molten rock flowing like water.

Lava isn’t the hottest thing, but it’s still really, really hot. When it comes to molten stuff:

  • Brass: 600° C (1100° F)
  • Lava: 1000°–1250° C (1800°–2300° F)
  • Iron: 1200° C (2200° F)
  • Steel: 1300°–1500° C (2400°–2700° F)
  • Glass: 1400°–1600° C (2550°–3000° F)

It’s not something you can stand next to. (Let alone fight someone while standing on a rock chunk floating in it.)

The operative phrase here would be: “Instantly burnt to a crisp.”


It will be two years this August that the lava stopped flowing.

While hot spots remain, the molten has become rock, and new plant life is already growing in the lava field.

I have two videos to share that I thought to include in a Wednesday Wow! post. (That first post of mine in 2018 was filed as a Wow! post, but wasn’t explicitly called out as one although it is in the title.)

I almost included them in the post I just published, but I don’t like to bog down a page with too many video player frames.

So this is both an extension of last Wednesday’s post and a spring equinox thing.

That said, there is also a hellish aspect to this. This guy hikes through what was, less than two years ago, a field of molten lava. As you’ll see, some parts are still smoking.

It would make a good depiction of Hell: Forever wandering a barren field of raw rock with green life over yonder just out of reach…

So I admit my choice may be a little macabre here, but the sights along the hike — especially if you have any interest in geology at all — are rather jaw-dropping. The mineral colors and crystals alone are worth the watch.


Without further ado:

This next one actually gets kind of intense (but, again, the sights are really something to behold — being inside a new lava tube like that… yikes!):

One thing I really appreciate is that the guy doesn’t say a word during either video. There simply are no words that could do it justice, and a narration would just be a distraction.

Just put these videos full screen on your largest screen and sit back and appreciate the stunning beauty and awesome power of Pele.


I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. If nothing else, it’s a nice quiet distraction by some very “concrete” natural reality.

Whatever else is going on, at least we’ll have more light than dark now.

And no one in the USA is being threatened by lava, so there’s that.

Stay vernal, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

10 responses to “Cooled Lava Hellscape

  • Wyrd Smythe

    In contrast, here’s what it looked like back in the summer of 2018:

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    “another huge pagan party”

    The pagans really knew how to party, if you could just look past that sacrifice thing.

    “Let alone fight someone while standing on a rock chunk floating in it.”

    The Force must have protected them.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      LOL! Right. I’m sure that’s it.

      Pagans understand the value of a good volcano. 😉

      Rural folks, in general, have some good seasonal parties. I used to go to a local Oktoberfest every year. Owner of a German restaurant set up a giant multi-tent “beer hall” in his parking lot, flew in many kegs of German beer, had nightly polka bands, served German food, roving “snuff wenches”… one hell of a party.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I just happen to have a picture of one of those snuff wenches:

      Snuff Wench Jessie Greene

      That board she’s holding is a spring-loaded snuff launcher that shoots snuff up your nose with appreciable force. (And we tip her for the privilege.) This particular wench is Jessie Greene, a local musician who worked at the German place part time. They used one of her songs, Time Bomb, in the TV show Burn Notice.

      That Oktoberfest used to be such a great local party, but it got taken over by the college crowd and became too popular, too crowded, too noisy, and way too long lines at the Porta-Potties. Haven’t been in years.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Hmmm. Never got into snuff, or tobacco products in general. (I did smoke a cigar once and thought I might throw up.) Although I have to admit she might have tempted me.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I do enjoy a good cigar once in a while, but that’s about it. (You didn’t inhale, did you?) The thing about Oktoberfest being outside in a tent is that we could smoke cigars. (And there was a decent tobacco shop just down the street.)

        The snuff is… an interesting experience. Especially when you blow your nose the next day. I’ve always been one who likes trying experiences, and once a year at Oktoberfest was fine. After a few years I started passing on it. Been there, done that.

        But flirting with the wenches was a fun aspect of it all. When they weren’t wandering around offering snuff, they were carrying those “meter boards” with a dozen or so shots lined up on them in little holes. Ah, the good old days of “wine and roses” (as if). 😀

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I did inhale. No one told me not to. o_O Probably for the best though. It guaranteed I’d never try smoking anything else.

        Now, they would have gotten young me with the shots. (Even back then I though alcohol tasted vile, but I wanted the effect.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’ve seen people turn green from inhaling a cigar. Even letting the smoke go up and out your nose really slams your sinuses. When I first got into cigars, I was really surprised how much nicotine you absorb through the tissues of your mouth.

        With a really good cigar, I tend to smoke it down to the nub where it’s burning my fingers. Cigars are like baseball games — they tend to have three acts: The first half, the middle third, and that last sixth, which is pretty intense. At that point, the lining of my mouth is just buzzing from the nicotine.

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    […] it’s the fourth post about Kilauea. Cooled Lava Hellscape wasn’t in the Wednesday Wow series because it was a spring equinox […]

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