What is Pele’s hair? Hawaii’s Mauna Loa erupts for first time in 38 years, scientists warn residents

What is Pele’s hair? Hawaii’s Mauna Loa erupts for first time in 38 years, scientists warn residents

By Rohit Upadhyay

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HAWAII: The largest active active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, started flowing after erupting on Sunday night, November 28. This is the first time in 38 years that Hawaii’s volcano has gone off bringing some serious health advisories as per experts. Though they believe it mostly affects the Northeast rift zone, far away from the town of Hilo, the concern still looms large as strong winds could carry volcanic gas, fine ash, and thin fibers popularly referred to as Pele’s hair downwind to the South Kona shore.

The United States Geological Survey tweeted, “Surface flows have come out of the caldera in past eruptions — that’s not uncommon. It’s magma going into the rift zones that is the real concern, because that can develop into a serious situation much more rapidly.” The USGS reports claim that more than a dozen earthquakes with over 2.5 magnitudes have stuck the region, where the highest measuring 4.2 in magnitude. The residents are been told that there is a strong possibility of periods of snow and freezing fog in the area.


A few South Kona residents decided to avoid any effects by opting to evacuate, however, no evacuation orders are made officially. Further, shelters are also being prepared as a precautionary measure. Interestingly, the eruption has come as native Hawaiians celebrate La Kuokoa, a former national holiday marking the signing of the Anglo-Franco Proclamation of 1843 amid the Sunday eruption. The treaty gave the Kingdom of Hawaii independence and sovereignty from Great Britain and France, reported the Daily Mail.

In a statement, the National Weather Service said: “At this time, lava flows are contained within the summit area and are not threatening downslope communities. Winds may carry volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s hair downwind. Residents at risk from Mauna Loa lava flows should review preparedness and refer to Hawaii County Civil Defense information for further guidance.” It further stated, “Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

Historically, the volcano’s lava rivers go into different communities, which include Hilo town. It sustains 45,248 residents, and Kukio is a billionaire’s paradise that has bloomed in the past four decades and is home to the world’s richest people, as per the report.

What is Pele’s hair?

A hair-like strand of volcanic glass that is named after the volcanic deity Pele, formed by gas during a volcanic eruption. As when the bubbles of gas near the surface of a lava flow burst, this leads to stretching the skin of the molten lava into long threads. As per the National Park Service, “Pele’s hair may be up to couple feet long, but only one micron (.001mm) thick.”

Because these hair-like strands are so light, they can become airborne and be carried by the wind. They can accumulate in low-lying areas and form dense mats many inches deep. While fragile and brittle, they are also sharp. As tiny pieces of glass, they can become lodged in human skin and eyes.

(National Park Service)



%d bloggers like this: