Colorful pahoehoe lava

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Art Unexpected.’ See more responses here.

This was a timely topic since, a couple of days ago, I went for a hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I headed out on the Puna Coast Trail, one of several longer trails west of Chain of Craters Road, that I haven’t explored before. (I’ll do a post about the trail once I’ve gone through the way-too-many photos I took that day!)

One of the highlights of the trail was the extensive areas of colorful pahoehoe lava. I’ve lived here a while now and I know lava doesn’t just come in basic black. I’ve seen lighter and darker flows; I’ve seen flows with a brown tint; I’ve seen flows with hints of red or green in them. But prior to this hike, I had never seen flows with such a variety of vibrant colors.

Instant Hawaii has a description of different types of lava (here) and they say “All the differences in pahoehoe flows stems completely from the temperature of the lava as well as chemical composition. Since both can change during a flow – it is possible to get all types of pahoehoe flowing from a single flow, over time.” I would also say that, what they call ‘quiet flow’ lava, is an apt description of these areas. When I was walking over them I thought they seemed harder and more metallic than the surrounding black pahoehoe lava, which tends to crunch a bit when walked on.

But the other thing I thought, as I found myself continually stopping, stooping, snapping photos, was that these flows were art, Madame Pele’s art, and that wasn’t something I was expecting when I set out on the hike.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

16 thoughts on “Colorful pahoehoe lava

  1. Pingback: Puna Coast Trail: From the trailhead toward the coast | Graham's Island

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