Pele's Process, Big Island, Hawaii
I, like many of you, have been following closely the recent events on the Big Island. The Kilauea eruption into Leilani Estates in Puna and the subsequent ocean entries in and around Kapoho Bay show the power of Pele and impress upon us the fact that our Earth is a living planet. The devastation is incredibly sad, but at the same time Pele's alluring beauty is undeniable.
Pele, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
I have had the chance to visit Hawaii island three times since last April, and on those trips I saw the Big Island as I have seen it before, and in new ways hitherto unimaginable. In April, the lava lake at Halema'uma'u was "normal", glowing in the dark hours like I had seen it in 2016.
As Night Falls a Halo Rises, Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
Then in May, the crater began to stir as earthquakes shook Volcano village and the Puna district multiple times daily, until the lava lake sank into Kilauea's underground tubes and channels. Next, the fissures opened from underground and eruptions into Leilani Estates spewed lava high into the air; lava pools and rivers formed; evacuations, roadblocks and checkpoints dotted the map; the loss and grief; and Pele's process began anew, creating new land in a display of awesome power.
Fissure 8, Leilani Estates, Big Island, Hawaii
Lava Fountain Pools, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
A flyover Fissure 8 in Puna sees it shooting lava 220 feet high; the makings of a cinder cone along the back side of the lava fountain are apparent; as is, too, the lava river and it's ocean minded flow
I photographed this event on two occasions-- late May and again in early June. In May, I went over for just a few days. In June, I went on a one way ticket and took all my camping gear and stayed a bit longer, determined to photograph this event from a safe distance and a respectful perspective.
Fissure 8 (Modern Art), Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
On June 4th I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and knew that on tomorrow's boat ride we would not be a able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves.
Where Lava Meets Sea with White Steam, Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
A half-mile-wide lava flow reaches Kaphoho Bay and covers the reef and baths in new volcanic black rock and white steam.
At 4 am on June 5th I boarded a boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my fire one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kapoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too.
Ocean Front Fire at Kaphoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House), Big Island, Hawaii
The power of Pele and her incredible beauty have never been more visible. I hope these images give you a sense of this energy and the wonder of our ever changing planet. Respect to Pele and hope and courage to all of those affected.