HVO’s geological sample collections are an important resource

On Dec. 30, 2015, an HVO geologist wore protective gear during collection of a fresh lava sample for chemical analysis from a pahoehoe breakout along scattered Pu‘u ‘O‘o lava flows.

Inset: Metadata is written on a bag that holds a sample taken from pahoehoe that was collected on Aug. 18, 2006. The front of the bag notes the date and time the sample was collected, sample-collector initials, a description of the sample, and ID; the coordinates of the sample collection location are written on the back of the sample bag. (USGS/Special to West Hawaii Today)

In the past, HVO would occasionally post images of people collecting lava samples on our website. These photos usually featured a person (with little-exposed skin) holding a rock hammer, with a metal bucket nearby. The bucket contained water to “quench” the sample, solidifying the hot lava into a cold glass. Natural-fiber or heat-resistant gloves, and sometimes a face mask, protected the sample collector from heat radiating off the 2,100-degree lava. The hammer was used to scoop some of the molten material into the bucket, which would hiss and steam in reaction; more water would be added to cool down the sample so it could be placed in a cloth bag.