Moonset and Mauna Loa


In the early hours of a cool September morning, I walk to the south side of Halemaʻumaʻu crater and watch the biggest, closest, brightest “supermoon” of the year migrate over the island and set behind Mauna Loa, earth’s largest volcano. The gas plume rising out of Halemaʻumaʻu, luminescent in the moonlight, hints at the power of Kilauea’s hidden molten magma lake.

Halema‘uma‘u crater is home to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, and is a wahikapu or sacred place. 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, causing explosions, pulsating red and orange glow and billowing gas emissions, but no visible red lava. 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: 12in. × 24in.