Golden, sharp strands of so-called goddess hair are masking components of Hawaii's Large Island. However what are these doubtlessly harmful threads — referred to as Pele's hair — and the place did they arrive from?

The mats of Pele's hair — a product of the continuing eruption from Kilauea volcano — include skinny glass fibers that type when fuel bubbles inside lava burst on the lava's floor, mentioned Don Swanson, a analysis geologist on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

"The pores and skin of the bursting bubbles flies out, and among the pores and skin turns into stretched into these very lengthy threads, someday[s] so long as a few toes [0.6 meters] or so," Swanson advised Micronis. [Photos: Fiery Lava from Kilauea Volcano Erupts on Hawaii's Big Island]

These gossamer strands are skinny, only a micron (one-thousandth of a millimeter) or two in diameter, though a few of them are coarser. "Typically, they’re actually like human hair, so the identify may be very apt," Swanson mentioned.

A microscopic view of Pele's hair
A microscopic view of Pele’s hair

Credit score: U.S. Geological Survey

These strands of lava-turned-glass normally have a small sphere on the finish, however this normally will get damaged off, Swanson added. Pele's hair — named after Pele (peh-leh), the Hawaiian goddess of fireside and volcanoes — is so light-weight that it normally will get blown downwind from the place it shaped. As a result of these glass fibers have sharp ends, they are often harmful to choose up, Swanson famous.

In earlier volcanic eruptions, Pele's hair has triggered hassle for the numerous Hawaiians who accumulate rainwater for consuming water. These glass strands land in rainwater that falls on folks's roofs and is then funneled right into a catchment system. "If the filters aren't tremendous sufficient to filter out the hair, then you may get hair within the water," which may hurt anybody who drinks it, Swanson mentioned.

"Think about inhaling tiny slivers of glass. That's what the Pele's hair is," he mentioned. "It may possibly inflame and irritate something that is available in contact with it."

Furthermore, there are cattle ranches downwind of Kilauea volcano. Prior to now, Pele's hair floated downwind and fell into the cattle's water troughs, the place thirsty bovids slurped it up. This doubtless injured the cattle's esophagi and stomachs, Swanson mentioned.

Nevertheless, he hasn't heard any stories of individuals or cattle harm by consuming water contaminated with Pele's hair from the present eruption, Swanson mentioned.

Pele's hair carpets the ground in Hawaii.
Pele’s hair carpets the bottom in Hawaii.

Credit score: U.S. Geological Survey

Quite, Pele's hair has been extra of a nuisance this time round, albeit a reasonably stunning one, he mentioned.

 "You may get drifts of Pele's hair which may be a foot or two thick interwoven with each other," Swanson mentioned. "It may be fairly hanging."

Authentic article on Micronis.