Sunday, September 6, 2009

"The Burning Island"

As I promised in my post Goals a while back, I am talking about Pele to prove that I'm not being (too) lazy and am actually looking up info on her.

I picked up "The Burning Island: A Journey Through Myth and History in Volcano Country, Hawai'i" by Pamela Frierson from my local library recently. It's a book devoted to Pele, though somewhat indirectly. Frierson talks about the volcanoes of Hawai'i, and the geology -- obviously, Pele's domain, since she is the local volcano goddess there. But Frierson also takes interest in mythology, and whether or not she actually believes in the old gods (that's a point I'm not clear on), mentions Pele's name frequently.

Really, this book is as good as one that is devoted to the mythological side of things. Frierson even talks about the myths, though they aren't what I'm talking about in this post.

There are two interesting geological facts which I want to share this time. One is that science proves that the islands were formed in almost the exact same order that mythology tells they formed. But this doesn't surprise me. Wouldn't it seem natural for myth to tell that the less active volcanoes are the older and that the more active are the newer? So when I read this I was just like "Well, duh."

The other interesting fact is a little more interesting, and it is that the islands come from a "hot spot." A hot spot is where there is a hole in the middle of a tectonic plate, which causes volcanoes to form. How a hot spot pops up (no tongue twister was intended, honestly) is not fully understood by scientists yet, though there are theories. I don't fully understand them, and won't attempt to explain them. If you are truly curious, I direct you to the reference desk of your local library. Alternatively, I suppose Google would also be good. :)

But what's interesting about this, is the mythology. According to myth, Pele stuck her staff into the ground to form the first Hawai'ian volcano -- which would create such a "hot spot." Very interesting, I think.

By the way, I got the photo here, and there are plenty more volcano photos if you are curious to see them. Unless otherwise specified they were taken by scientists, and are public domain. And yes, these are photos of Hawai'ian volcanoes. :)

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