Pele's Realm


As often as I’ve seen Mauna Loa over the last thirty years, I’m still astounded by the volcano’s mammoth size, visible when it’s not masked by clouds. Low on Mauna Loa’s flanks, Kilauea – one of the world’s most active volcanoes – erupts. A vigorous gas plume marks the presence of the molten lava lake inside Halema‘uma‘u crater.

Halema‘uma‘u crater and Mauna Loa are homes to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, and are wahikapu or sacred places. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984, sending lava flows to the outskirts of Hilo. In March 2008, after twenty-six years of quiet, the floor of Halema‘uma‘u ruptured as deep magma pushed its way toward the surface. With time and countless tremors, rockfalls and booms, the gas conduit slowly widened, developing into a growing lava lake perched just below the crater’s floor.

Original painting size: 20in. × 10in.