The thing about lava is that it’s a lot harder to find than the movies lead you to believe. Sure, sometimes volcanoes explode in massive, deadly explosions, and sometimes there is actually some lava involved in such explosions. But more often than not, eruptions of oozy goozy lava are quiet and slow and not that news worthy. The Kilauea volcano on the big island has been erupting since 1983 and although enough lava erupts every day to cover a two lane road for 20 miles1, you don’t see any flashing news headlines, or movie trailers featuring Pierce Brosnan or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as manly heroes up against Hawaii’s worst volcano.2 That’s because most of the lava flows harmlessly to the sea, or globs onto the side of the volcano, building new land quietly, out of the lime light.
I had already hiked over twenty miles in search of lava. That hike was magical, but we had never found the elusive liquid rock, and we were running out of time. Field trips to Hawaii do not last forever. So, our professor did the only thing he could. He woke us up at three in the morning. Continue reading