Vulcanologists with political aspirations aside, let’s take a moment to look at Kilauea & Fuego, these two fire-breathing behemoths, spewing forth destruction and threatening the areas around them --but in very different ways. One has the long-standing reputation as a steady, unstoppable force, the other as an explosive hothead-- Sounds like the next Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson & Kevin Hart buddy comedy, just sprinkle in a buncha Geological comedy goooold.
Hawai’i’s Mt. Kilauea is our predictably unstoppable force in this scenario. In the last 240 years it has only spent 16 of them being inactive. At all other times, it was either erupting or simmering in preparation to do so. Locals monitor and revere the old volcano at a respectful distance, but remain ready to pick up and run at the slightest hint of an eruption.
Believed to be between 300,000 and 600,000 years old, ancient records reflect a *previously explosive* history for Kilauea. But LATELY, since like the 1700s, it has mellowed out --not as in FEWER eruptions, just LESS EXPLOSIVE ones, like when your step-dad subtracted beef chili from his diet, but added tofu burritos?
These eruptions are called “effusive,” meaning there's still a lot *to* them, they just don't make a lot of noise-- **UNLIKE YOUR STEP DAD on tofu burrito night**
And the eruptions aren’t short and terrifying. They’re long and boring. Before the May 2018 eruption, Kilauea’s last volley began in January of 1983 and didn’t peter out until March of 2015. It slowly erupted for 32 years.
THAT ERUPTION’S DURATION IS LONGER THAN
THE AMOUNT OF TIME THE OLSEN TWINS HAVE BEEN ON THIS EARTH, AND THAT WAS *BEFORE* THEY MADE A DEAL WITH SATAN FOR IMMORTALITY, FOR WHICH THEY PAID BY YIELDING UP THE LIFE IN THEIR EYES, THE PINK OF THEIR SKIN AND THE ROUNDNESS OF THEIR BONES.
Kilauea is a SHIELD volcano, named for it’s rounded dome-like shape, it’s low to the ground and *like the olsen twins,* if it ever had a point, it’s long-fucking-gone.
Mt. Kilauea’s current eruption is an effusive one, once again. Having given plenty of notice before proceeding and sticking mostly to lava as it’s medium of choice, the Hawaiian volcano started erupting on May 3rd and it is still going. The death toll is non-existent, but that's not to say it hasn't done significant damage. While no casualties have been reported, nearly a hundred homes have been destroyed so far, and as of this week, it finally got around to blocking escape routes, having terrorized the land at its breakneck top speed of ½ a mile an hour. Look, it’s a slow mover, it’ll get around to finishing, just NOT AS QUICKLY AS WE WANT IT TO, like the Oscars Ceremonies, or Woody Allen’s career, or Kanye West.
Fuego is not a shield volcano. It’s a stratovolcano. Built up over the millenia by layers and layers of hardened lava. Its shape is what you would normally think of, when you hear the word “volcano.” Coming in at only 200,000 years old, Fuego is the jittery upstart of the active volcano family. It's tentatively dormant states are like a teen driver on the highway for the first time: *ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!* it's scared, you're scared, we're all scared, but NOBODY FUCKING SHOW IT BECAUSE KIDS ARE LIKE DOGS MAN, THEY SENSE FEAR, AND ONCE FUEGO’S HORMONES GET A SNIFF OF THAT ACRID SWEAT ITS JUST THE SPAN OF A HEARTBEAT BEFORE HE NERVOUSLY YANKS ON THE WHEEL OF MOM’S DODGE CARAVAN A LITTLE TOO HARD AND CAREENS ACROSS FOUR LANES OF TRAFFIC, GIVING MEEMAW THE HEART ATTACK OF HER LIFE AND --YOU GUESSED IT-- STEPDAD SITTING IN A PUDDLE OF HIS OWN PEE.
Fuego is exploding nearly constantly of late: 2004, 2007, 2012, 2015, 2018. What makes Fuego’s 2018 eruption so dangerous in comparison to Kilauea is its composition: While Kilauea been sculpting a Maggie Daley Ribbon of lava through the Hawai’ian landscape (and it’s just as useless), Fuego spewed forth a fuckton of pyroclastic flow: a deadly mix of ash, superheated poisonous gas, and volcanic rock- basically the same toxic matter that would come oozing out of Ivanka, if she removed her skin mask.
Pyroclastic flow spreads incredibly fast. It can reach speeds of 100 miles and hour or more, can climb *uphill* and at temperatures upwards of 1,830° F, you’d burn in the gas cloud first, and if you survived that, you’d live just long enough to asphyxiate.
Kilauea, remember, has a non-existent casualty score. Fuego has a confirmed death toll of over 100, with more than 300 wounded.
Though every news outlet seems to be setting it up as one, this isn’t a contest. These two volcanoes have vastly different histories, personalities, behaviors and quirks; and the countries they’re situated in have vastly differing resources vs. disadvantages. Hawai’i’s residents are living in temporary housing, but the island has expressed that it’s overall worry is a blow to tourism. In Guatemala, there are more than 2,000 souls still missing, their families desperate for news. Group shelters bursting at the seams and shortages of medical supplies and water.
PBS has a curated list of reliable charities working to help victims of Fuego, so if you want to make a difference, tell your step dad to change his pants, put down the burrito and donate to Guatemala relief.