In A Rare Event, Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Is Raining Green Gemstones

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Looks like there is a silver lining to all that lava spewing out of the Kilauea Volcano, after all. Amid the destruction, something beautiful is taking place, courtesy of an intriguing natural process. According to ABC 10 News, the volcano which is emitting lava, ash and toxic gas is also ejecting green gemstones known as olivine into the air.

The olivine gemstones, which are seen raining all over the ground, is being found in ash and rocks in areas heavily hit by flows of lava.

Olivine is responsible for the green hue in Hawaii’s Papakōlea Beach, which is also known as Mahana Beach or the Green Sand Beach. The picturesque beach is one out of only four in the world, and the distinctive color of the beaches occur when the olivine erodes from out of enclosing volcanic cones.

Interestingly, the olivine, which formed millions of years prior, was not created during the volcano’s eruption. The violent blasts only freed them.

Stanley Mertzman further elaborated on the subject saying the following.

“The olivine crystals folks are finding on the ground scattered about are from violently ejected basalt [a type of lava] blobs wherein the embedded, earlier-formed olivine crystals are freed from their surrounding pahoehoe [syrupy lava] basalt liquid.”

Geologist Cheryl Gansecki told Mashable that the gemstones that were raining down were most likely carried in the porous volcanic rock known as pumice.

Arizona meteorologist Erin Jordan shared images of the rare gemstones sent to her by friends in Hawaii on social media. She wrote that the sky is, “Literally raining gems.”

Every burst of lava from Kilauea is spewing forth more of the green-tinged gemstones, and the volcano shows no sign of letting up for the immediate future. Olivine is composed of magnesium iron silicate, and the common gem is found in large amounts in our planet’s mantle.

Before you go out and collect them, though, you might want to keep in mind that the gemstones aren’t very valuable. The website, Alibaba, lists polished and cut olivine for $20-$50 a piece. However, the cool story behind how these Hawaiian gemstones were formed may drive up eCommerce bids on them a little.

Another type of material that forms from volcanic activity that is used in jewelry is Pele’s tears. The black material is formed when airborne pieces of molten lava fuse into teardrop-shaped dollops of volcanic glass.

Both Pele’s tears and olivine gemstones make for lovely jewelry. And, even though they aren’t worth much, they might make for some interesting conversation.

Image of Pele's tears
Featured image credit: James St. JohnFlickr(CC BY 2.0 )