The Kilauea volcano has been getting a lot of attention recently due to the eruptions from its main crater and the fissures underneath. Homes have been destroyed, travel paths eradicated, toxic clouds of acid and microscopic glass have billowed into the air, a geothermal plant has been heavily damaged and small “lava bombs” have caused crushing damage and set things ablaze.
Earlier today, it was discovered by drone survey that the main crater has become clogged by falling debris. This has two potential outcomes: a good one, where the seal is strong enough to withstand pressures from beneath; and a bad one, where the seal holds for a while… and then explodes in a classic, massive explosion.
From the Independent:
Kyle Anderson, a US Geological Survey (USGS) geophysicist, told reporters in a conference call: ““It’s possible that new explosions will blast through the rubble at the bottom of the vent, and these may or may not be larger than previous explosions,” he said. “It’s also possible that the vent could become permanently blocked, ending the explosions entirely.”
Uncertainty seems to be the watchword of the day.
That’s because another thing is uncertain: how a compass will react near Kilauea. The iron present in prior lava flows has resulted in a situation that has been getting steadily more attention on the internet. Kilauea has a reversed magnetic polarity.
In the standard internet format, the statement has been made and reattributed over and over, but with a curious lack of verification. Most sites seem to rely on the same Getty Images picture, and far and away the most reputable of them all is UK Express, which is sensationalistic. It’s remarkably similar to how conspiracy theories grow.
That said, it’s plausible. Here’s a sample video of a similar event happening on the Canary Islands:
And Scientific American has documented similar magnetic anomalies around the world’s largest volcano.
To be fair, even if it is true, a needle spinning around doesn’t measure up to the majesty and fear evoked by slowly moving lava incinerating all in its path.
Question of the night: Have you ever actually used a compass, outside of playing with them as a youth? If so… when?