Friday Rock Blogging: Pele’s Hair

Pele's hair in a pahoehoe flow. Photo by Douglas Perkins This one’s in honor of the new activity at the peak of Kilauea. For pictures and updates, see the Hawaii Volcano Observatory homepage. For more geoblogospheric coverage, check out the posts at Magma Cum Laude and the roundup at Geology News.

peles-hair-loop.jpg To get Pele’s hair, you need to throw around some lava. More precisely, you need your volcano to work like a cotton candy machine: take a bit of liquid rock, and spin it out until it looks like, well, hair. Or cotton candy (seriously, Internet, why do you not contain any magnified images of cotton candy for me to link to here?). Though these images aren’t from the current eruption, the latest HVO press release reports that there was fresh Pele’s hair on the Halema’uma’u (summit caldera) overlook on Monday.

Below the fold: you can see the streching-outing!



  1. Bee wrote:

    Cool stuff. I’ve never seen the real thing – how long are the strands, on average?

  2. Silver Fox wrote:

    This site says it can be as much as several feet long, though often two to six inches because it breaks easily. It also tells how to make your own Pele’s hair:

    “You can create your own Pele’s hair by trying to take a sample of pahoehoe flow. When you dip a kitchen whisk, or other implement, into an active pahoehoe flow, as you extract the sample – if you do so quick enough, strands of hair will extrude from your sample back to the ground. These may be many feet in length but only as thick as human hair. These fragile strands do not last long, but show you exactly how they are created.”

    Never tried that!

  3. Anonymous wrote:


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