Celebrate America’s Birthday with Natural Fireworks: Hawaii’s Volcanoes

The entire universe in blog form
July 4 2013 8:00 AM

Happy Birthday, America!

Hawaii volcano lava flow
Some states take their fireworks literally.

Photo by QT Luong, from the video

My fellow Americans: I can’t think of a better way to honor our nation’s birthday than to watch natural fireworks erupting from our newest state. Turn up the volume, make this full screen, and watch Hawaii’s volcanoes celebrate the Fourth of July.

The photographer, QT Luong, has details about the video on the Vimeo page. You should also check out his web page, Terra Galleria, which has thousands of stunning photographs. These are seriously beautiful.

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I just returned from a vacation in Oregon where I was surrounded by volcanoes, and it was truly amazing. When we left, and started our drive, for hours—once we were tuned to it—we could see the landscape sculpted by ancient and recent eruptions. Layers of lava swept over the land for hundreds of kilometers, and created eastern Oregon as we know it today.

Volcanoes are a powerful and majestic force that shaped a vast amount of America’s geography. That’s something worth knowing, on this day when we celebrate our country.

Tip o' the caldera to Joe Hanson at It's OK to Be Smart.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!