Do you know your a’a from pahoehoe?

I wanted to update this blast from the past post, Pahoehoe and A’a Lava, with some great videos that help illustrate how these two types of lava form.


Hardened Pahoehoe Lava Flow

There are two distinct types of hardened lava you’ll likely see in Hawaii — pahoehoe and a’a. These are Hawaiian names that have been adopted universally for describing the two main types of lava. Pahoehoe (pronounced like “pah hoy hoy”) is a smooth lava produced when lava flows slowly and gently. A’a (pronounced like “ah ah”) is a very rough and rugged lava that is produced when lave flows quickly. Here are some photos that will help you distinguish the two types of lava. This photo from my personal collection shows cooled pahoehoe:

Now, here’s a great video from volcanochaser that shows a pahoehoe flow reaching the ocean.  (Email subscribers, click here for the video.)

The photo below shows an a’a lava flow. Notice the rough texture on top. It is believed that the name a’a came from the noises someone might make while walking over it in bare feet. Maybe an alternative name should be ouch’ouch or ow’ow. 🙂

A'a Lava Flow (Photo use per Wikimedia Commons)

Now watch this a’a flow video. The sound that the flow creates is as interesting as the shape and movement. (Email subscribers, click here for the a’a video.) Credit again goes to volcanochaser.

For more on lava, see this Wikipedia page.

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