Gorgeous, green gemstones have emerged from the fiery depths of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. The mineral, called olivine, crystallizes from magma rich in magnesium and low in silica. It’s one of Earth’s most common minerals by volume, and it’s commonly worn as jewelry thanks to its eye-catching hue.
Explosions at the summit of Kilauea and throughout its many fissures are flinging olivine gems, which are plentiful in the lava flows, out into Hawaiians’ backyards. A few people took to Twitter to showcase the tiny pieces of rock they found.
Olivine can be found in tons of places around the world, but in Hawaii, it’s everywhere, thanks to the volume of volcanic material. You can spot green in the asphalt on roads. There’s even a green beach called Papakolea with “sand” made from tiny pieces of olivine. There are only three other coastlines with such high concentrations of olivine: Guam, the Galapagos Islands, and Norway.
The chunks of olivine falling from the sky and seeping in with the lava are a bit bigger than the sand-sized participles that tourists frequently snap pictures of, but they’re not too big, or falling too frequently, to cause any real damage to nearby Hawaiian residences.
The gems can be considered precious, but only if they have the right size, shape, and typically a darker hue. Otherwise, they’re too common to be sold as is. But they are very pretty to look at!
Olivine is commonly encased in basalt, but the force of the explosions have separated the gem from its neighboring rocks and minerals.
With mandatory evacuations still in effect in areas around the active volcano, it’s not very likely that people will venture close just to take pictures of a relatively common mineral. But it is a fascinating phenomenon, fitting for such a unique, yet deadly, volcanic eruption.