Mysterious gemstones from Kilauea

On the big island of Hawaii, Kilauea's current eruption is devastating to anyone nearby. Many people have lost so much as they are driven away from their homes. The destruction does not discriminate, the eruption is changing the landscape, adding acres of new land to the big island. Amid the chaos, some Native Hawaiians also believe that the volcano also gives little gifts as she builds new lands.

In Hawaiian mythology, Pele, the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes sometimes sheds Pele's Tears which are black tear-shaped lava bits that have been ejected from the volcano into the air where their velocity and the relative coolness of the air hardens them quickly. Higher velocity ejections produce Pele's Hair, lower velocities produce Pele's Tears.

Another common phenomenon is where crystals formed deep inside the earth are carried to the surface by lava. One of these crystals is Olivine. The best Olivine gemstones are called Peridot.

When I was on the Big Island of Hawaii several years ago, we went hiking in Kilauea Iki, an old crater of Kileauea. On the trail, if you looked closely, you would find tiny little Olivine or Peridot pieces. Many of these were barely 3-4 mm. We were in a park and it was not legal to remove these, and of course, they were really too small to try to make into beads. However, I did buy some peridot nuggets at a later date and I have been saving them for the day when I'm ready to make them into some jewelry.

I recently read this article which talks about a recent phenomenon where little bits of Olivine are falling from the sky because they are coming from the active eruption. When the ejecta is cooled suddenly, the rocks may disintegrate as they cool, and these little green Olivine crystals drop from the sky along with volcanic ash.

Olivine melts at a much higher temperature than lava, so these nuggets have been created from far underground and the lava has brought them to the surface. If the lava explodes, or if the pumice that is ejected contains them, they fall back to earth, leaving little green dots on the ground. Olivine also is extruded within the lava. In this case it may take millennia of erosion to free the crystals from the lava.

I wrote a blog about Peridot a while back:

And now with this new information about the Olivine crystals falling from the sky, I feel ready to create new jewelry using the Peridot stones I have in my collection.