VHP Photo Glossary: Pele's hair
Thin strands of volcanic glass drawn out from molten lava have long been called Pele's hair, named for Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. A single strand, with a diameter of less than 0.5 mm, may be as long as 2 m. The strands are formed by the stretching or blowing-out of molten basaltic glass from lava, usually from lava fountains, lava cascades, and vigorous lava flows (for example, as pahoehoe lava plunges over a small cliff and at the front of an `a`a flow). Pele's hair is often carried high into the air during fountaining, and wind can blow the glass threads several tens of kilometers from a vent.
Image: Hundreds of strands of Pele's hair intertwined on the surface of a pahoehoe flow at Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. The glass strands were erupted from Mauna Ulu, a shield that formed on the east rift of Kilauea between 1969 and 1974.