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What Lava Does to a Tree

Kawika Singson was exploring and photographing a lava flow from Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island when he found this glowing hole, and several others like it. The hole in the lava was in the shape of a tree that was no longer there. It’s an artifact of the weird way in which lava destroys trees.

When hot, fluid lava engulfs a “moist, cool tree,” according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, “the layer of lava next to the trunk chills and solidifies,” creating a circular mold of cooled lava around the trunk.

Eventually, the tree burns to ash or “bakes into charcoal,” as explained by the Observatory.

Sometimes, the lava around the tree will drain away to a lower area, creating a mold of the tree that stands above ground, like the ones seen along the Lava Trees Loop Hiking Trail.

You can see those and learn more about how lava changes the landscape at HuffPo.

(Image credit: Kawika Singson)


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