Lava Lake Explosion Births Bizarre Glass Egg In Hawaii

On Friday, during a fairly typical explosion at the lava lake at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, various volcanic rock fragments flew into the air.

But later that day, on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, some 360 feet above the lava lake’s surface, Tim Orr, a geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, found something he had never seen before.

“It’s kind of like a balloon,”Janet Babb, observatory geologist and public information officer, told The Huffington Post. “It’s hollow inside with this thin, glassy shell, which is very fragile.”

Scientists are calling it the “coolest Pele’s tear” ever found — a reference to the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and the tear drop-shaped glass particles that form when fountaining molten lava quickly cools.

The observatory wrote on its website that the “one-of-a-kind, completely hollow Pele’s tear” is about half an inch in length and was likely ejected from the lava lake in the aftermath of the explosion, when the lake surface was spattering vigorously.

But the glassy object’s fragile, egg shell-like structure has scientists scratching their heads.

“To my knowledge, it’s the only thing like it that has ever formed,” Orr told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Rockfalls and subsequent explosive events, like the one seen above, are relatively common at the lava lake. They occur with no warning, sending fragments of hot lava, rocky debris and ash high into the air. The Friday event was the third explosion in a week, according to the HVO.

Babb told HuffPost there are many different kinds of fragments that come off the lava lake surface when it’s spattering.

In addition to Pele’s tears, ejected lava can form into golden strands of fragile volcanic fiberglass, which volcanologists call Pele’s hair. There is —> Read More