Friday, April 27, 2018

Active Lava Flow at Hawaii Volcano

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

After our visit to Green Sand Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii, Mr. Handsome and I spent a few hours at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, located on the east side of the island. The five volcanoes on the Big Island are Kilauea, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kohala, and there are many others located on the other Hawaiian islands and in the ocean.

Of the volcanoes on the Big Island, only Kilauea is currently erupting and has been for more than 30 years. The current eruption has destroyed a significant number of rain forest, homes, and roads. The lava flow changes on a daily basis.

Sometimes it's flowing in a location where folks can walk right up to it, which was the case when my family visited the island 15 years ago. See the red? That's hot lava! Some of the black lava rock is fully hardened, while some is still soft.

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

My dad and brother are in the brown and green shirts, about five feet from the fresh lava flow.

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

While Mr. Handsome and I were on our trip, one of the flows was accessible only by a long, treacherous hike, but we decided to forgo that. We were, however, able to see lava erupting out of the Halema'um'u Crater, inside the Kilauea Caldera.

The picture below shows the floor of the Caldera, with the Crater inside it. See the red glow? It looks small from the picture, but it's actually quite large and is bubbling and spurting, which we could see quite well with our binoculars.

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

In the 1800s, the Halema'uma'u Crater was at times so full of lava that it overflowed onto the floor of the Caldera. It was a popular tourist attraction for the rich and famous, including Mark Twain, who visited in 1866 and stayed at Volcano House, a hotel that has been in operation since 1846.

Imagine leaving the comforts of home and trekking across the vast ocean to an unknown island, which wasn't even a U.S. territory at that point. And imagine how terrifying it would have been to visit the volcano at a time when science was much less advanced and impending eruptions would have be more difficult to detect.

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

Kilauea Caldera--essentially a massive indentation that is 2.5 miles long and 2 miles wide, according to the National Park Service--was formed when the summit of the volcano collapsed about 500 years ago. On a sign inside the park, the NPS informs visitors that they believe the initial depth of the caldera to have been around 2,000 feet. Since that time, the floor has risen, bringing it to a current depth of only 400 feet (another fact we learned by reading those informative signs throughout the park!)

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

Crater Rim Drive encircles the Caldera, but the bottom half of the road has been closed for 10 years due to toxic fumes, so visitors can no longer walk right up to the edge of the Halema'um'u Crater.

Hawaii volcano active lava flow
My visit to the Volcano Park as a child

We explored other areas of the park until after sunset, when we returned to the overlook to check out the nighttime view. It was fabulous! The lava flow had changed slightly since we had been there a few hours before.

Hawaii volcano active lava flow

15 comments:

  1. Anonymous4/27/2018

    I wouldn't call Hawaii an unknown island by the mid-1800's. Hawaii has been inhabited by native people for at least 1000 years, and by Americans and British since the 1820's. The first (native) people who reached the islands were able to farm, fish, and survive even with volcanic activity around them. They heeded Pele's fury, built shelters, and moved if needed. However, dangers worse than volcanoes came when the first missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820, along with whalers and traders. The native population was exposed to previously unknown diseases, and their numbers dropped by about 75%.

    As far as volcanology, by the early 1840's, there was a volcanic observatory operating in Italy, and Humboldt (who had the ocean current named after him) had been studying earth sciences for over 40 years. Seismic activity, gas emissions, and ground deformity before and during eruptions were all known by then, thanks to written eyewitness accounts, including Pliny the Younger's account of the famous Vesuvius eruption in the year 79. So there was some degree of predictability, at least enough to recognize signs that had been seen before, and to know that danger might be coming. We still don't have eruption predictions completely down pat, even after 140 years of operations by the USGS.

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    1. Thanks for the history lesson. :) We learned while we were there that historians believe that the earliest settlers arrived around the year 400, which is just incredible. Still, if I had lived in the 1800s, you wouldn't have been able to convince me to hop on a boat and sail 2,500 miles across the open ocean to some tiny little island. LOL

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous4/28/2018

      Sailing was a common form of transportation back then. My great-grandfather sailed many an open ocean in the 1800's as a merchant seaman. Maybe it felt the same as hopping on a plane feels today?

      Of course, there was no Panama Canal in the 1800's, so trips around the tip of South America or through any of its narrow passages were...proceed at your own risk. My great-grandfather was supposedly shipwrecked or somehow stranded near the tip of Africa and picked up by another ship, or so the family legend goes.

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  2. Ellie you looked cute as a child. Thanks for sharing the pictures with use.

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    1. Thanks! It's my pleasure.

      Ellie

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  3. Anonymous4/28/2018

    The nighttime view was sure worth the return trip, it's a amazing...Jane

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  4. That picture of the caldera in the dark is just amazing! And I love the old pictures you added to the post-- how fun that you got to go back and explore as an adult. 😊

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    1. Thank you, Alicia. Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

      Ellie

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  5. I’m with you Ellie- I would not have taken the trip had I lived in the 1800’s! I just flew to Maui and spent 2 weeks visiting my son. I hope to visit the Big Island some day. My favorite part was whale watching. Went on a raft with Captain Kiwi and we spent some time watching a mother and her baby. God has given us so many beautiful places and creatures. Thank you Ellie for sharing your trips with us.

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    1. Amen, Dawn! God sure has given us a lot of beautiful places to visit and creatures to admire. That's fun that your son lives in Maui, although I'm sure you miss him quite a bit.

      Ellie

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  6. Ellie, Ellie, Ellie. It's FOREGO, not FORGO. Those journalism skills strike again......

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    1. Anonymous5/04/2018

      Kitty,
      Oh how easy it is to criticize! Looks like you owe Ellie an apology since, in fact, you were mistaken. It is very rude of you to make a derogatory statement about her skills when you can just point out a mistake when it actually occurs. I'm sure you make written mistakes too. This is clear from the fact that all three of your "sentences" are incomplete.

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  7. You might want to look into that one again. :)
    https://writingexplained.org/forgo-or-forego-difference

    Ellie

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    1. Anonymous5/04/2018

      Thank you, Ellie, I just learned something!

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