a remarkable sequence of events

Fascinating…

Breathtaking…

Scary…

And wow. 

It’s getting hot in Hawaii.

Let’s talk first about what’s actually happening; second, let’s add a few, farther-reaching thoughts, briefly reflecting upon the “fascinating, breathtaking, scary, and wow.”

Have you noticed the remarkable images recently hailing from Hawaii’s biggest island? As reported by Ars Technica (which is far more “technica” than moi), which routinely offers colloquial, scientific insight and opinion, describing the Big Island of Hawaiʻi:

“… There are five individual volcanoes that make up the island. Of those five, Kīlauea is the youngest, comprising the southeastern edge of the island. Kīlauea’s summit is home to a collapsed crater called Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. In 2008, a new vent appeared in the floor of the crater, which has hosted a lake of roiling lava ever since.

Volcanic activity also takes place along a straight southwest-northeast line known as the East Rift Zone. In 1983, eruptions produced Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Crater, which also hosts a lava lake. Eruptions of lava have continued intermittently in the East Rift Zone ever since…

Almost four weeks ago, it became clear something could be brewing. The number of small earthquakes within the volcano—produced by the movement of magma—ramped up. And as the lava lake at Halemaʻumaʻu began rising, precise satellite and ground sensor measurements showed that Kīlauea was inflating—clear signs that some fresh magma had been delivered. Eruptions don’t always follow volcano inflation, but it’s a darn good sign that the risk has increased…”

The U.S. Geological Center is watching closely. Multiple homes have already been destroyed and some 2,000 residents have evacuated, as earthquakes continue, sulfur dioxide is entering the air, and at least 20 fissures have now been reported; note that fissure #17 is said to be several hundred yards long. “No matter what they number them,” reports CNN, “for residents, the fissures just mean more reasons to run.”

“What happens next?” asks observers. 

Experts are uncertain how much longer this could continue; eruptions from the existing fissures or from new ones may drag on. However, there is intensifying concern that an explosion similar to Kīlauea’s 1924 eruption could soon take place. The 1924 explosion launched boulders as big as 14 tons into the air… and there was very little warning.

So back to adding a few, farther-reaching thoughts…

Most of us watching this event unfold are not watching from the nation’s 50th state. In fact, Hawaiʻi is only one of the five islands of Hawaii, and only approximately, 10 square miles have thus far been affected. Hence, airlines and hotels are reporting few cancellations, and the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau is still actively encouraging tourists to come. The eruptions don’t seem to be significantly disrupting the island’s tourism industry.

So how do we respond when we see these remarkable images? … images of mounting steam, spewing spatter bombs, and lava with a fluvial flow?

Fascinating…

Breathtaking…

But it’s fascinating and breathtaking when removed from the situation. The potential damage and harm only affects a percentage that’s few. Hence, we are sometimes numb to the “scary,” instead more aware of the “wow.”

I wonder where else we do that. When a situation doesn’t directly affect us, where does our awareness of the seriousness of a situation dissipate?

Maybe that’s a quieter, far humbler “wow”…

Respectfully…

AR

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