Hawaii Island Volcanic Activity captured by Chuck Denny
Hawaii Island Volcanic Activity captured by Chuck Denny

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – For the last four years, Hawaii Kai resident Chuck Denny has been intrepid in his effort to capture photos of Hawaii Island lava fields that almost no one else has seen.

While his photos appear as stunning as any professional ones, he told Hawaii Reporter that this is a hobby for him. However, since he often hikes for miles in remote areas to get to the lava because he wants the world to see what he can see, his hobby may be more of a calling.

Lava field on Hawaii Island in November 2011 - Photo by Chuck Denny

On November 3 and 4, Denny traveled to Hawaii island to photograph the active lava surface flow expansion field that originates from the lava tube on the east flank of the Pu’u O’o vent. That is about 1 mile long and extends 3 miles to the south east of Pu’u O’o and 1.25 miles above the Royal Gardens subdivision northern boundary.

Photo by Chuck Denny

Denny said the photos were taken along the 1 mile surface flow field during visit to Jack Thompson’s lava house in Royal Gardens. This is his seventh visit there in four years, since his initial trip on January 20, 2008.

Jack Thompson is a well known animated personality on the Big Island of Hawaii. He welcomes guests to his so called lava house, where they are sure to find solitude and beauty. But as Denny said, guests must realize that somewhere nearby flows 2,100-degree lava.

Mr. Thompson's House in Royal Gardens - Photo by Chuck Denny

“Mr. Thompson is now the only remaining full time resident in the Royal Garden subdivision of which he has resided for 28 years and in which over 180 homes have been consumed and over taken by Madame Pele,” Denny said.

Madame Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire who is said in Hawaiian culture to rule over the volcanoes, is a force to be reckoned with.

“The photos exhibit the beautiful phenomenon of Madame Pele creating new land with streaming rivers of pahoehoe lava and the creation of extending lava tubes at lower elevations as they meander down the pali toward the ocean,” Denny said.

Photo by Chuck Denny, November 2011, Hawaii island

He adds that if this current episode persists without lava stalling, the existing path is South East toward the middle of Royal Gardens where Thompson lives.

“The active terminus of lava was moving 200 yards per day and the residents of Kalapana Gardens may soon see lava high on the pali, however Madame Pele decides the direction of her ever changing landscaping project,” Denny said.

In his four years of photographing this area, he also has captured stunning active lava tubes, lava skylights along the lava tube within the Royal Gardens subdivision, surface flows that have traveled 6 miles from Pu’u O’o to the ocean, and ocean entry.

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