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The Science Behind Hawaii’s ‘Smiley Face’ Volcano

The Science Behind Hawaii’s ‘Smiley Face’ Volcano

[source] A “smiling” volcano has gone viral. Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been actively erupting since 1983, and it’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). But the volcano received more attention recently when the volcano’s lava formed what looks like a smiley face. The smiley face appeared in a lava lake crater on the west flank of Pu’u ‘O’o, on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone, according to Janet Babb, a geologist with the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. [Explosive Images: Hawaii’s Kilauea Erupts for 30 Years] Pu’u ‘O’o also recently made headlines when the lava flow reached the ocean for the first time in three years. While it may seem like Kilauea was smiling for the cameras, the “face” has a more scientific explanation: The bright spots and incandescent line that created the face shape were produced by normal volcanic activity. As a lava lake circulates, lava upwelling and downwelling will occur on opposite sides of the lake, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This often results in a spattering of molten lava, which creates bright spots on the dark-colored, semi-solid lake surface. Circulation can also cause sections of the surface to pull apart, revealing the lava beneath and creating lines. By chance, these processes occurred in a pattern that created the smiling image, Babb said. “The Pu’u ‘O’o lava lake just happened to produce two spattering sources (bright dots) that have been interpreted as ‘eyes’ and an incandescent line that has been interpreted as a ‘mouth’ — with the two lake surface features located relative to each other to produce the... read more
From atop Mauna Kea, UH scientists are finding exoplanets, boosting the chance of discovering alien life

From atop Mauna Kea, UH scientists are finding exoplanets, boosting the chance of discovering alien life

[source] University of Hawaii astronomers were part of a globe-spanning team that recently announced the discovery of more than 100 new planets orbiting stars beyond our own solar system. These new exoplanets, confirmed in part through observations made from Hawaii-based telescopes, reveal an unprecedented range of diversity in the places and ways in which planets can form. And the study’s findings further raise the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial life. “One of my favorite quotes comes to mind, from Arthur C. Clarke,” said Evan Sinukoff, a co-author of the study and a graduate student at the UH Manoa Institute for Astronomy. “‘Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the universe or we are not — both are equally terrifying.’” This artist’s concept shows a crop of more than 100 planets, discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Those planets include four in Earth’s size range orbiting a single dwarf star. NASA/JPL “We all know how easily fear can motivate people,” he laughed, then added, “What keeps me going into work every day is my desire for exploration and the notion that I’m contributing a chapter to a journey thousands of years in the making … and coffee.” The Flea And The Street Lamp To find these new planets, an international group of astronomers collaborated on a specific set of observations made with NASA’s orbiting Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009. Sinukoff said they started by taking measurements of more than 10,000 stars, in five different patches of the sky, each of which they monitored for three months. They looked for specific changes in a star’s brightness, potentially caused by an... read more

Local Events

Stop Addressing Science and Culture as if They Are Separate Concepts

Stop Addressing Science and Culture as if They Are Separate Concepts

By Keahi Warfield, President of Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc. (PUEO) and Richard Ha, PUEO Board Member (orginally published in Star-Advertiser under title “Mauna Kea’s Future” June 28, 2017 with additions from Dan Ahuna) We were all so moved to watch the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe Hōkūle‘a sail home from its amazing, three-year, educational Mālama Honua trip around the world. But that’s not the end, not of their journeys nor of other explorations and discoveries. There is so much more to learn, including from atop Maunakea, above the cloud line, where everything down below – Hilo, Kona, Waimea – falls away and you can peer into the universe. The telescopes are of great value. Through them, we look back in time just as the Kumulipo (Hawaiian creation chant) takes us back to darkness. Instead of the telescopes being Maunakea’s focal point, though, let’s create a cultural center there above the clouds – a center truly devoted to Hawaiians and our culture, one with Hawaiian architecture, values and tradition built into the design by cultural practitioners. It will honor the vastness of the Hawaiian culture in a way we aren’t currently doing. Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim calls this idea of a “World Park” upon Maunakea a “living museum of the people of the First Nation of Hawai‘i” and “an opportunity for Hawai‘i to be the center of discovery of mankind and of the universe.” Governor David Ige also supports this idea. The number of visitors to Maunakea keeps increasing each year, and by not providing a place that truly respects and shares our indigenous knowledge to educate, we are... read more
Making Progress at Palekai

Making Progress at Palekai

Last Saturday we had another work day down at Palekai.  The Hokualaka‘i’s mast got a good sanding and a coat of sealer.  The paddling canoes got some needed attention and some new storage racks were setup in the container. It was also a good chance to see the Hikianalia, the sister ship to the Hokulea.  They were moored in Palekai to pick up previsions and ready the crew for a 2600 mile journey to Tahiti to take some repair supplies to Hokulea before they make their last leg back home completing their world circumnavigation in Hawaii.  They were happy to give short tours of the canoe as they made preparations to depart on the 26th.  You can follow their journey here:  http://www.hokulea.com/vessels/hikianalia/ Having the Hikianalia in the bay inspired all of us to keep working on the Hokualaka‘i’ and get her back in the water this year!    ... read more