I had the great fortune to accompany the Pioneer Productions film crew from the UK to Hawaii to film about the solar system. Nick, Mark, Max, Steve and I all cruised around the Big Island in search of lava and otherworldly landscapes, and we were not disappointed. Nathan from Pahoa was our guide, and he took good care of us. We were set back by a full day by the giant tropical storm that smashed into the island, but it was thankfully much less bad than it could have been. But the drizzle felt endless. Luckily, we could start in a lava tube, Kaumana Caves, which was its own little world and a nice haven. Spending so much time in there helped us see lots of great geology and evidence for how the flows moved through the tube. Eventually we did get up to the caldera, which is one of my favorite places on Earth. It's the source of everything that happens on Kilauea, and I can always feel it. We spent lots of time at the steam vents, the Kilauea Caldera overlook, and the Mauna Ulu lava flows down on Chain of Craters road. Finally, after our fourth attempt, we got up in a helicopter for an amazing overlook of the new flows coming out of Pu'u 'O'o to the east, moving in a narrow line through the forest - the first I've ever seen of that. There were forest fires on the margins and a line of steam vents that marked the location of the active lava tube. We got a glimpse or two of the red hot lava through some skylights. It was a fantastic flight, and such an amazing trip all around. And such fun company to share it with!
Steaming Steam Vents
Helicopter taking off - and then my leg…
Forest fires and thin flows
The looming Pu'u 'O'o cone and lines of steam
Kilauea lavas take the forest
And the ethereal chirp of tree frogs
All pictures are below: