Hawaiian volcano offers gifts of gemstones delivered from the sky

Olivine
© Cagla Acikgoz

As if to say 'sorry,' Kilauea softens its fury by tossing shimmery green olivine to the humble humans below.

Eruptions, lava rivers, clouds of toxic gasses, vaporized lakes, incinerated homes, lava fountains shooting 140 feet in the air ... hell hath no fury like a volcano at its most volcanic. And currently, Hawaii's Kilauea is doing a bang-up performance in the ol' "Earth turning itself inside out" show.

But it hasn't been without its poetic little flourishes ... like, raining gemstones from the sky. Local residents are reporting the discovery of olivine scattered about the ground.



While Kilauea could have gone for broke and offered up diamonds or something, we'll take the olivine – which you may recognize as the gem, peridot. It is a very common mineral, known to those who speak chemistry as magnesium iron silicate. And in fact, the Big Island's Papakolea Beach dons mossy green sand thanks to it.

But finding it in the form of discrete lumps is surprisingly rare, notes Science Alert, "thanks in part to its tendency to weather into tiny sand-grains quite quickly." (Hence, the famed green beach.)

IFLScience goes into the volcano-spewing-gemstones details pretty thoroughly, explaining of the olivine:

It’s ubiquitous in igneous rocks with a low-silica content, like the sort that’s freshly erupting from Kilauea right now. It’s one of the first things to take solid form within the magma as it begins to cool underground.

In fact, the near-mantle derived magma that’s erupting now is as hot as you can get – around 1,116°C (2,040°F) – which suggests it has a very low silica content. This makes the appearance of plenty of olivine more likely than it did a month or so ago.

“I think it is just coming out either in the air – which civilians on the ground have said – or breaking free upon impact,” volcanologist Dr. Janine Krippner told IFLScience.

Whatever it's doing, it is hard to deny the wonder of it all. Mother Nature, in the midst of such ferocity, shows us her versatility by conjuring up gemstones and scattering them about in a display of pure delight. Nice touch, planet Earth, nice touch.

Hawaiian volcano offers gifts of gemstones delivered from the sky
As if to say 'sorry,' Kilauea softens its fury by tossing shimmery green olivine to the humble humans below.

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