So back in March a new fissure opened up between Nāpau Crater and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō (you may remember I made a post about it) and lava poured out for a few days, and an experimental seeding and out-planting section of the forest caught fire and burned to the ground. We've dubbed this area Kupukupu, and now that my adventures in Kealakomo Waena are complete, our next big project is checking up on our experimental plots and seeing what survived, what's resprouting, and what seedlings are coming up.
Today was our second day up there (our first day was a few weeks ago). We hiked around, surveyed our plots, and a little after 2 p.m. we started the 40-minute hike back down to our truck.
WHICH IS WHEN THIS HAPPENED.
...Yes, that would be a volcanic eruption.
According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website (also check out their web cameras), rapid deflation of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater floor was detected at 2:05. We started to leave our work site at 2:15. The eruption began at 2:20.
Consider, if you will, this Google Map I have marked, showing the estimated location of the new eruption, and my estimated location at time of eruption. I was about, oh, I dunno, 4 miles (6ish kilometers) from the fissure, down slope (and due south, which is, according to the website, where the lava was going).
We had, by the way, absolutely no idea this was going on at the time. We were a fair part of the distance back down to our truck when our radio started going crazy with chatter about volcanic activity at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, but it wasn't until we got in our truck and started driving back up Chain of Craters Road that we saw the black plume and
By the time we got to the intersection with Crater Rim Drive, we'd passed a whole posse of government trucks on their way down to evacuate tourists from Chain of Craters, and a roadblock had been set up to keep people out. We got back to the greenhouse, and my boss is like, "Well, I guess we won't be working at Kupukupu again for a while...." I just about died laughing.
MY JOB IS THE BEST JOB. I LOVE MY JOB. I LOVE MY LIFE.
...One of the best bits of today's story is how I'd spent the morning hike up having an extended conversation with our volcano goddess, Pele. It's a thing I do, sometimes, when I'm going to work in the forest; I don't know the appropriate Hawaiian chants, but I like to quietly introduce myself to the forest and beg permission to enter. Today, being so close to the active vent, I spoke to Pele. I introduced myself and described my lineage, explained my reason for being there that day, and asked for her hospitality and, should she care to give it, her assistance. I counted it a win when the sulfur dioxide wasn't as bad as the last time we visited. Looking at the timing of that eruption, though... that happened just as we were leaving. If she had let loose earlier in the day, they would've started evacuating people while we were still well up the hill; I bet we probably would've been buzzed by a helicopter. As it was, she held off until we were on our way out. I asked for hospitality; she exercised her power and showed very clearly that she does whatever she likes, but she chose to let us depart safely.
Mahalo nui loa, Pele. Aloha. Message received.