After weeks of spewing ash and lava, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is now shooting green crystals into the air.
The tiny green gems, known as olivines, have been discovered by residents living on Hawaii’s Big Island.
“Yes, the lava that is erupting now is very crystal-rich and it is quite possible that residents might be finding olivine,” Cheryl Gansecki, a geologist at the University of Hawaii-Hilo told Mashable.
According to Gansecki, the olivine is carried in the rapidly cooled lava, not the plume of ash.
Locals have reported finding the tiny green gems on the ground and posted their discoveries on social media.
“In the midst of the destruction nearby & stress of the unknown, [my friends] woke up to this — tiny pieces of olivine all over the ground. It is literally raining gems. Nature is truly amazing,” wrote Erin Jordan on Twitter.
Another Twitter user GEOetc called them “Kiauea’s little gems.”
US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall said it’s not uncommon for olivine crystal to be present in lava rock. “There’s often olivine in rocks all over Hawaii,” she said.
The gems can be separated from the lava as it explodes through the ocean and breaks into smaller pieces. The olivine can also simply “fall out” of the lava as it erupts into the air.
Meanwhile, the large volume of lava flowing into the ocean of Kapoho Bay has formed a new peninsula in the shallow waters.
According to Mashable, this is the way Hawaiian Islands grow. Unfortunately the lava has destroyed more than 130 homes in the process.
“This is the common way in which the island grows laterally,” George Bergantz, a volcanologist at the University of Washington, said.
“It’s lava flow, on top of lava flow, on top of lava flow.”
The new coastline is reported to be approximately 2.1 kilometers in length so far.
RESIDENTS RETURN HOME
Earlier this week, officials let some people back into their homes and scaled down emergency operations as lava flowed into the ocean on a path that wasn’t threatening new areas.
“We’ve pretty much thrown everything at this event” since a series of lava fissures began emerging from cracks in neighborhood last month, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency Administrator Talmadge Magno said on Monday.
“Some aspects of it can kind of start to scale down as the volcano somewhat runs into a stable situation.”
His definition of stable means that lava continues to flow along a path toward the ocean that isn’t threatening new areas. It was flowing north and then east toward a community the lava wiped out last week.
Officials are transitioning to recovery efforts, with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is starting to do damage assessments, Magno said.
Lava has destroyed more than 600 homes.
There was “not a lot of change” to the lava flow, said Janet Babb, a geologist with the USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Lava was shooting into the sky from one vent and there was “weak” activity at two other fissures, which weren’t producing much of a flow and not advancing very far, Babb said.
It’s possible a new fissure will open or vigorous flows could emerge from vents that have been inactive.
Magno said additional workers can be called in if conditions change.
In the meantime, fewer workers are needed to staff a 24-hour operations center and officials are reducing checkpoints, Magno said.
Half of the residents of a subdivision that had been ordered to evacuate after a fissure opened there on May 3 were being allowed to return starting last week. Only residents are allowed there.
The other half of the residents in a more vulnerable area are allowed back during the day if conditions are safe.
At Kilauea’s summit, there continues to be explosions that shoot plumes of ash into the sky. There were two small blasts on Monday, including one after a magnitude-5.4 earthquake, scientists said.
A National Weather Service radar unit has been helping provide data about the heights of the ash plumes and the direction of ash fall. But the unit has been broken since Thursday.
A part for repairs was expected soon, said Robert Ballard, science and operations officer for the weather service in Honolulu. Ash expelled during explosions may cause poor visibility and slippery conditions for drivers.
Another ongoing hazard comes from lava meeting the ocean. Scientists warn against venturing too close to where the lava is entering the ocean, saying it could expose people to dangers from flying debris.
This story originally appeared in news.com.au.