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The Earth's Molten Core [Nov. 30th, 2005|03:14 am]
susan smitten
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Let's travel back in time, to the end of July. Hawaii!

A main attraction of the island we visited is the volcano that is erupting. Getting too close to an eruption is dangerous business, and that's why children, elderly, and the infirm alike flock to the spot. People hike up this volcano (did I mention it's erupting?) for hours, unsure of how far is too far. When will the ground open beneath them? How long has the rock under their feet been cool? There is no beaten path - there can't be - and the brittle bubbles of cooled lava regularly collapse under the weight of hikers.

On top of all that, the hike is done under the black of night to ensure visibility of the flows. Five beacons bring the hikers back to the road, but beyond #5, one is on his own. A few days before we arrived in Hawaii, a Texan (college student, I think) was rescued after being lost for days out in the wasteland that surrounds the flow.

(**Edit: Don says the lost Texan hiker guy was 40 or so, and wanted to get closer to the lava flows to see them, so he hiked further toward them and got stuck. He found himself in an area where, everywhere he stepped, there were 4-foot-deep lava rocks, exploding beneath his feet into pits of glass shards. Oh, if it rains out there (and it rained every day while we were there) you wind up covered in poisonous centipedes, according to warnings we read. This guy survived by licking plants or something, and was lucky to be found by a helicopter.)

I've seen some pretty incredible pictures of the Kilauea Volcano. These are not they.

Infrastructure has, uh, left the building.

Words of advisement I would surely heed.

This sign, on the other hand... we decided to ignore it, pushing forward for another couple of hours. See the little doomed guy falling into the sea?

After hours of trudging over unfriendly terrain, we reached the final beacon.

Aren't we proud! We turned back shortly after this. Apparently we had a couple hours to go until we could no longer trust the ground under our feet, according to weary hikers passing us on their way down.

This was the best I could do at capturing what it looks like when the surface of the earth opens and its molten core oozes out, running down into the ocean.

In summary, many people think it's a good idea to climb volcanos that are erupting. I'm not so convinced, but if fear and danger are your thing, try it! It's a pretty cool sight.

[User Picture]From: etherealmommy
2005-11-29 07:43 pm (UTC)
Uh, ya, I don't think I would have done that! You are brave :) Do you hear any statistics about how much injury/death occurs in that sort of situation? hehe. How often are there large eruptions? and did you actually see people with small children? You know, my parents used to be stationed on Clark in the Phillipines, right next to an active volcano which erupted a few years later and buried the base.
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[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2005-11-29 10:41 pm (UTC)
Yikes! At your Philippines story!! Our nieces went before we did, and one of them is 6. Also Don's parents who, while younger than my parents, are actual grandparents. That site was the most crowded we saw; the volcano and a beach we went to with Don's family were the only places we saw tourists, and were there ever a lot of them. It's a national park, which must read "Bring your children and grandparents."

I think I was the least brave in our group! I was pretty nervous, but nobody else seemed to be. Not sure about injury statistics, but I'd be curious to know.
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[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2005-11-29 10:51 pm (UTC)
I just realized I didn't mean to imply that young children and their grandparents go as far as we did; I think most people stop around beacon #1.

Mt. Fuji, on the other hand - you'd be surprised how many people go all the way to the top. I think *nearly* everybody who attempts it is successful. (That's a grueling hike, too.) Maybe it goes along with the stereotype of Japanese never giving up?
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From: synthesoid
2005-11-29 11:26 pm (UTC)

unusual warning sign

kudos to the hawaiin government for failing to grasp or implement modern authoritorian logic in their lava warning sign. a state issued sign with a yellow base and black letters, those on top being large and giving a stark warning, typical so far. then a smaller set of text more scientific in language? finally followed by a diagram of the causes of danger? if the sign did'nt have a chunk missing out of it, it would have done a poor job of scaring me. someone should tell the would be authoritrians of hawaii something about the orwellian logic of mind control. they must employ less detail and more dramatic language and imagery in their signs. also the diagram should skip the science lesson and show one of those traffic sign pedestrians melting in lava. this makes me curious as to the culture of hawaii at large, is that sign an anomaly or is the culture at large more open?
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[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2005-12-06 05:01 pm (UTC)

Re: unusual warning sign

I can't tell whether you're joking - didn't you see the little doomed guy! Heehee. But now that you mention it, I didn't see the multitudes of warning signs and labels I see on the mainland - and I think things are more open.
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[User Picture]From: veranationgirl
2005-12-01 03:41 am (UTC)
i actaully took that tour...my grandmother said it was well worth the hike (while i'm thanking myself for all my life not well spent) :) afraid i was but it was beatiful.
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[User Picture]From: chu_hi
2005-12-06 05:01 pm (UTC)
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