Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

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Down the Barrel of an Active Volcano

Kilauea is pretty quiet right now. But that didn’t stop me from getting some good shots around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island on May 29th. First, I had to laugh at this sign in the area for viewing steam vents and sulfur deposits.

Beware of earth cracks

Here are some cool sulfur crystals in an area where gases are constantly rising out of the ground. The smell reminded me of riding to altitude in the Otter with a certain skydiving friend of mine. You know who you are.

Sulfur crystals by a gas vent

Next I headed to Kilauea. During the day it’s just a smoking crater in a massive volcanic cone area. While that’s very cool, it doesn’t compare to the nighttime view (long exposure with tripod using the Nikon D90):

Kilauea at night

This is just the glow of the lava (which you can’t see) lighting up the smoke plume and the clouds that are rolling in.

I also drove down to the end of highway 130, where most activity in the last few years has taken place. Ever since the volcano started erupting outside the national park, there have been issues with access. Now they have a security company that corrals tourists to keep them a) safe and b) off private property. On the way to the county’s “viewing area” I passed this sign:

For Sale: 2 lots, oceanview

Take it how you will. As funny as I found it, the guy who’s trying to sell a chunk of land that is solid black lava probably isn’t too amused.

The old viewing area was overrun by lava three weeks ago (if only I’d been here then!). Now you can only go as far as the last point where the lava crossed the road. Unfortunately that’s pretty far from the active flows, which are pretty limited this week anyway. There’s not even much running into the ocean right now.

Most of the lava is pooling up on a hill, on private property, and not really flowing anywhere. If you try to approach it (and do get past security), you risk breaking through into air pockets in recently-cooled (and broken-glass sharp) lava or melting your shoes on still-warm flows. I might have chanced it during the day with some precautions, but my itinerary didn’t allow time for it.

Here’s the best shot I got from the viewing area at night:

Molten lava at the Highway 130 viewing area

Keep in mind this is a crop of a 200mm zoom photo, long exposure on a tripod. Probably only 2 or 3 people a day bring the right equipment and know-how even to get this distant photo. The flow you can see is probably 1-2 miles away. The glow on the horizon is clouds being lit up by the new area where lava is pooling. It’s not what I’d hoped for, BUT it is a photo of molten lava! Check that off the RTW list – haha.

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Posted in Around the World 12 years ago at 3:59 pm.


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5 Replies

  1. This one is really cool too! I have a lot of fun reading your adventures this morning!! I wonder whether there’s house for sale with lava view as well, not just ocean view :)
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 3 Modes of Transportation by Travelers Around the World =-.

  2. Thanks Dina! This trip is just about the most fun I’ve ever had.

    Lava view… I think there are many houses where you can see the glowing hillside that I snapped! The places with a close-up lava view, well, let’s just say they might want to find a new lodging FAST.

  3. wow, that close! Sounds like fun to have, but you might lost your property as long as the lava touch it..
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 3 Modes of Transportation by Travelers Around the World =-.

  4. It’s still your property, just with a glassy, black new surface… which is a few hundred degrees for a month, and then has jagged edges that will slice anything to ribbons… D’OH!

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