Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Savaii - Lava flows

The islands of Samoa are volcanic in origin; dormant and extinct volcanoes exist on each of the major islands that constitute the Samoa archipelago (Samoa and American Samoa further to the east). The presence of these volcanoes is no more evident than on Savaii, the second of the two large islands that constitute Samoa.

Large swathes of Savaii are covered in lava flows, the remnants of a slow eruption from two volcanic mountains that took place from 1905 until 1911. Driving along the eastern coastal road of Savaii reveals large tracts of land where the lava dominates the landscape. Dark black lava (andesite or basalt perhaps? Rock nerds let me know), showing the effects of its slow flow across the landscape, stretches across the horizon. Large sections are rippled, and long fractures streak through it all.

Most interesting of all are the places where the lava met, and consumed, areas of human habitation. In one area on the eastern coast, three churches were destroyed by the lava flow yet still stand. The London Missionary Service (LMS) church, pictured here, is amazing. The lava filled about half of the building, slowly pouring through its main entrance. Impressions remain where the corrugated iron roofing collapsed onto the lava.

No comments: