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Olivine crystals not shooting from Kilauea eruptions

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Posts about crystals shooting out from the Kilauea eruption have been blowing up on social media. However geologists say that these articles aren't true.

Hawaii geologists tell us that people probably mistook lava rocks for olivine or they found larger olivine crystals in older lava eruption zones like the 1960 Kapoho eruption.

"I'm guessing people saw this stuff saw that it was green, know that olivine is green and decided that olivine is perhaps what's coming out of these fountains and that's where the whole thing got started," Scott Rowland, UH Manoa Geologist said.

Olivines are light crystals that can be found within basaltic lava rocks. Rowland said their size can vary from the size of a fingernail to a grain of sand.

Geologists say that even though lava rocks may have olivine, you may not see it right away.

"You'll see the lava before you see any crystals," said Cheryl Gansecki, UH Hilo Geologist.

Cheryl Gansecki works with the USGS to research lava rocks from the eruption. She says the olivine crystals would be very difficult to find in lava rocks from this eruption.

"If you were to take that lava apart and crush it up you may find some tiny olivine crystals, but they're only one or two millimeters in size and they're hard to see," Cheryl Gansecki said.

They say that this eruption is "olivine poor" and that you won't find many olivine crystals because of its weight. Because of its density, it can only be found in deep magma eruptions. 

"Having an olivine rich lava flow or cinders or scoria or pumice is not unheard of in hawaii at all, but the current eruption however is not one of those," Rowland said.

For people looking to find olivines, Rowland suggests looking to beaches.

"If what you want is a lot of olivines, the best thing to do is to go to one of these beaches where nature has does all the work for you and separated out all the other stuff and left behind the olivines," Rowland said.


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