Olivine – Green Crystals Raining From Mount Kilauea


The recent period of activity at Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea volcano has demonstrated the unpredictability of Mother Nature in more ways than anyone could have imagined.  Earthquakes, magma flows, and toxic ash clouds are typical products of volcanic eruptions, but in Hawaii, the world has been exposed to several unexpected phenomena.  Previous lava flows made contact with ocean waters and created clouds laced with hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles.  Green Lake, a 400 year old fresh water lake on the big island was vaporized.  In a matter of hours, the lake, which was several hundred feet deep in some areas, was filled with lava instead of water.  Gases and other volcanic pollutants have mixed with airborne water vapor and dust to create “vog” or volcanic smog interlaced with tiny sulfuric acid droplets.  When it rains in an area where vog is concentrated, the result is acid rain with corrosive properties similar to diluted battery acid.


And now, after more than a month of active magma flows and explosions, the volcano is shooting another kind of “rain” in the form of green crystals.  Island residents are reporting that tiny green crystals are littering the surrounding area.  The green gems are olivine crystals.  Although they are a common mineral found in Hawaii’s lava, it’s not common to find them during an eruption.   In this eruption, molten lava is being blasted apart, literally, allowing for the olivine minerals to be separated.  Although olivine is one of the most common minerals below the surface of the earth, it’s rare to find it separated from the natural rock, and even rarer to find it of gem quality.  Typically, olivine erupts with the calm oozing of basalt lava on Hawaii, where its locked away as the lava cools.  In the recent eruption, lava plumes shooting high into the air are quickly cooled, which separates the melt, allowing the olivine to lithify as crystals.

Small Olivine Crystals Found in Hawaii (photo credit – Forbes)


Olivine is one of many rock-forming mineral groups found in the earth’s crust and one of the most abundant.  It is not scientifically classified as an individual mineral species, but seen as part of a mineral group called the olivine group and includes tephroite, olivine, monticellite, liebenbergite, glaucochroite, fayalite, forsterite, kirschsteinite and laihunite .  It is a magnesium iron silicate  (Mg2+, Fe2+)2SiO4 .  When in gemstone form, its known as peridot or chrysolite.   Olivine gets its name due the olive-green color of most samples; there are variants which are pale or near-yellow.

Olivine isn’t often used in industry except as a slag conditioner.  High-magnesium olivine is added to blast furnaces to remove impurities from steel and to form a slag.  It’s also been used as a refractory material, to make refractory brick and as a casting sand in the aluminum industry.

Metaphysical Properties of Peridot

Peridot, like diamond, is born of fire and brought to light; both are formed not in the Earth’s crust, but in molten rock of the upper mantle and brought to the surface by the tremendous forces of earthquakes and volcanoes.  It has also been found in meteorites.  It has been prized as a gemstone to drive away the forces of darkness, as a protective charm against evil spirits, sorcery, and magic, and it is purported to cure cowardice and calm anger.

Peridot assists in balancing the endocrine system, especially the adrenal glands.  It also supports the digestive system and the proper assimilation of nutrients from food, water and sunlight, and may be used to aid optimal functioning of the gall bladder, spleen, liver, and pancreas.  Peridot may also be used to help strengthen the eyes and to provide relief from stomach ulcers and ulcerations in upper part of the small intestine.

It’s considered a useful stone for healing the emotional body and dealing with issues of the heart.  It’s often used to cleanse and heal bruised egos and hurt feelings.  It also stimulates psychological clarity, inspiring a sense of happiness and contentedness.  Some believe it can empower the user to detach their mind from outside influences and to boost self-confidence.

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