Pele's tears

Fragments of molten rock falling from a lava fountain may congeal in the air, forming solid drops of volcanic glass, broad at one end and tapering at the other. Hawaiians call the beautiful black fragments waimaka-o-Pele, or Pele’s tears (in reference to the volcano goddess). Fountaining may also produce glass filaments as long as three feet, gold in color and as fine as human hair, either spun out from the tear-shaped ends of these drops or forming on their own. The delicate strands of lauoho-o-Pele, or Pele’s hair, drift downwind, and collect in rock crevices on the leeward side of Kilauea Volcano, gleaming with the mysterious presence of the deity for which they are named.

Pamela Frierson