Ron Schott's topic for this installation of The Accretionary Wedge prompted me to get back on the blog wagon. He asked us to ponder the most memorable/significant geologic we've directly experienced and I instantly though of watching lava drip into the Pacific Ocean and turn into pumice while precariously perched on a lava bench in Hawaii. Which by the way, was one of the silliest decisions I've ever made while 'chasing' geology. However it was one of the most memorable thus far (watching Stromboli erupt at sunset is a close second, I'll share that story in a future post).

It may be the 'go to' for a lot of responses to Ron's request but watching lava flow out of a small vent, spill over onto a lava bench, disappear into yet another tube and then slowly dribble out into the ocean was awesome. Awesome in the strict definition of that word. I was both mesmerized by the visual and awestruck at how quiet the process of building new land was; the gulls made more noise!

I climbed down a steep, gnarly, crumbly and rotten slope of basalt with one thought in my mind: "pumice, pumice, pumice..." I knew it was forming, the white vapor clouds told the tale of superheated lava encountering seawater but I wasn't sure I would be able to see it actually 'drip' into the water. I was worried it would be below the water level... I should have been worried climbing back up a life threatening slope of manky basalt waiting to slice and dice, but I wasn't. I made it all the way to a postage stamps sized black sand beach (ok, slightly larger than a postage stamp) and waited. I couldn't see anything at first because the steam was blowing towards me (problematic for a number of reasons, least of all obstructed viewing opportunities) but eventually the wind shifted and there it was: the maple syrup of geology, slowly oozing out of a wave battered lava bench (again, take note of throwing caution to the wind), stretching out to touch the water and then sizzle and steam and then... float. It happened just liked I'd been told, read and watched in videos. It was aa'aa-mazing. <-- I know, I know... please forgive the lack of scientific correctness and enjoy the few photos I was able to take that more or less captured the 'event.'

Returning up the slope of death was uneventful (for me) and truth be told, I would do it again. Not one of the best decisions I've ever made and in hindsight I would do several things differently but it was an amazing event, one few folks likely take the risk to experience (which just means they make better decisions than I do).