It's Literally Raining Green Gems in Hawaii Because of the Kilauea Volcano Eruption

Monday, 18 June 2018 - 1:00PM
Earth
Monday, 18 June 2018 - 1:00PM
It's Literally Raining Green Gems in Hawaii Because of the Kilauea Volcano Eruption
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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

You may have heard of frogs raining from the sky, but what about gemstones? Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been erupting for weeks, created streams of lava and cracking open fissures all over the island, but last week residents saw something new and bizarre: rains of olivine, a greenish, semi-precious stone.

 

Though olivine is harder than glass, most of the chunks expelled by the volcano were about the size of peas, so the rain of stones apparently didn't harm anyone.



Events like these aren't uncommon when it comes to volcanoes—because they're essentially giant, roiling cauldrons full of various minerals being mixed at incredibly high temperatures, volcanoes can create all kinds of gems, including diamonds.

 

Naturally, when an eruption happens, some of those gems can be blasted into the sky to rain down with the rest of the molten rock and ash.

 

In this case, a mixture of magnesium, iron, silicon, and oxygen formed the relatively common gemstone olivine, which is related to the more precious stone known as peridot.

 

In the right quality, peridot can range in price from $400-450 per carat (or $50-80 per carat for lower-quality gems).



The volcanic olivine produced by Kilauea may not be worth much, but it can produce beautiful scenes like Mahana Beach, where olivine has been worn down to green-colored sand. However, Kilauea's month-long eruption has probably destroyed much more beauty than it's created: a mile-long stretch of beach has already been buried under molten rock and volcanic waste, not to mention forest habitats for wildlife and the 600 homes that have been destroyed. Large fissures are still spreading across the island, and acid rain warnings have been given to residents. Though no one has died from the eruption, at least one person has been injured so far.



Seems like beauty always comes at a price.

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