Sunday, December 03, 2006

Kilauea in the Rain

Above is Kilauea Iki crater. The summit of Kilauea is flanked by rain forests, emphasis on rain. This place is very wet in December. Groundwater is boiled and billows as steam from thousands of vents, like the Steaming Bluffs below. This is a battle between water and heat.

As the Pacific Plate slides over a volcanic hotspot, the Hawaiian Islands formed starting with Kauai in the Northwest. In turn each island rose from the sea spouting flame, with the Big Island as the latest. Somehow the native Hawaiians knew this and incorporated this journey into mythology.

The fire goddess Pele fought many battles with her sister Namaka-o-Kaha'i. Pele first sought refuge in Kauai, but Namaka quenched Pele's fire with waves and water. Their battles raged from island to island. Atop Mauna Kea the sisters fought their greatrest battle before Namka froze Pele out with a blanket of snow. Kilauea is Pele's last home.

The first thought of many is that a tiny singularity could somehow suck up the Earth. It consumes no more mass than most people eat. That tiny diet, converted into Hawking radiation, generates Earth's core heat. Outward radiation pressure balances gravity's inward pull. With the surface area of a pinhole, the singularity could not swallow a planet. Fire and pressure have battled until an equilibrium is achieved.


Blogger Rae Ann said...

I was watching a show about black holes and they've decided, apparently, that some black holes are actively 'feeding' and some are not. If there is such a singularity at the core then it's probably one that isn't actively 'feeding' (good for us!). It seems such a condition would imply a probably somewhat delicate balance of activity that keeps it stable. But I'm just guessing. ;-)

11:15 AM  
Blogger QUASAR9 said...

Awesome Louise!

2:34 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Nice to hear from both of you, Rae Ann and Q9. The Black Hole in the Earth idea is catching on very quickly. If you have kids, you know that little things have big appetites.

9:32 AM  

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