Well, actually, I would like to be there

The past few weeks, several people have asked me if I’m glad to be off Hawaii Island and away from the lava eruption.

Each time I remind them that I’m a reporter and would gladly take the opportunity to go investigate a lava flow up close. It’s history in the making. It’s exciting. And a little dangerous.

You might question that last statement, or accuse me of understating the danger. But really I’m not. I lived on that island (a good 80 miles as the bird flies) from Kilauea volcano for eight years. I had a number of opportunities to write about the volcanoes (there are five separate systems, not one big one) and learn a little about lava. To follow some of the headlines, you might think most of the residents of Hawaii Island (or even Hawaii the state as a whole) are in mortal danger. That’s just not true.

Halemaumau (want to pronounce it? Try ha-lay-ma-ooh-ma-ooh) Crater, is the source of the magma that has been creeping toward the Pacific Ocean on the island’s southeast side. The crater has had a lava lake inside for years. In the past few weeks, pressure has built inside and resulted in multiple explosive events – not of lava specifically, but ash and rock. Yes, rocks the size of home appliances might be coming out of the crater, but the crater is situated well within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and reports from official sources say only people within about half a mile of the crater need to worry about those “ballistic” rocks. No one lives within half a mile of the crater. 

Read more in the May 30 edition.