Hawaii volcano eruption update: What is Olivine? | World | News

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Since this unprecedented eruption began, residents have battled fissures spewing massive lava fountains, sulphuric gasses in the air, shards of glass in the wind, ash clouds, and lava haze rising off the ocean. 

So it’s a welcome surprise to many to see a less sinister side of the volcano, in the form of the green crystal Olivine.

The stones are being spotted in gardens and areas near the active fissures. 

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Wendy Stovall said the phenomenon is to be expected.

She said: “It’s pretty common. There’s often olivine in rocks all over Hawaii.”

What is Olivine? 

Olivine, one of the most common minerals on earth, is a rock-forming mineral, typically found in igneous rocks (formed when molten rock, or lava, solidifies).  

Most Olivine found at the Earth’s surface is within the rocks at divergent tectonic plate boundaries and hot spots – just like Hawaii. 

Olivine crystallises at a very high temperature, meaning it is one of the first minerals to crystallise from magma. 

This is why the little green gems can be seen raining down near lava flows, as they would have been sitting within the volcano already. 

Ms Stovall said: “It really is one of the first things to form.”

The ones being spotted in people’s gardens would have “just kind of fallen out” of the lava as it spews from the active fissures. 

Olivine is very easily weathered, so it is most commonly seen at the earth’s surface in the form of sand – resulting in Hawaii’s green beaches. 

What is the latest from Kilauea?

The activity, which began on May 3, is being cited as an unprecedented event, as there are two eruptions occurring simultaneously.

The first is the eruption at Kilauea’s summit crater, and the second along a six-mile string of 25 fissures down its east flank, known as the East Rift Zone. 

The USGS reported a small explosion today, shooting more ash high into the atmosphere, putting communities in the southern part of the Big Island at risk. 

Since the eruption began, the volcano has destroyed approximately 600 homes and forced thousands into temporary shelters. 

Power and telephone lines have been damaged, and huge swathes of land and roads have been wiped out. The damage to the island’s geothermal plant, which was inundated with lava, is still unknown. 

No one has been killed by this period of activity, but one man was seriously injured when he was hit in the leg by a lava bomb. 

Kilauea has been in a constant cycle of activity since 1983, turning eruptive after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the area in late April. 



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