Tag Archives: lava


Kilauea Caldera

Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
K?lauea is one of the most spectacular volcanoes existing on Big Island in Hawaii. Rising 4,091 feet above sea level, the summit caldera is a broad shelf of uplands well beneath the long profile of Mauna Loa. It is a very low flat shield volcano lying against the southeast flank of the larger volcano known as Mauna Loa. It is one of 5 shield volcanoes that create the Hawaiian islands. The others are Kohala (extinct), Mauna Kea (dormant), Hualalai (dormant), Mauna Loa (active), and Kilauea (most active). The term “Kilauea” in Hawaiian means “spewing” or “much spreading” which refers to its frequent lava flows which has been flowing forth from from the Kilauea caldera/Pu’u ‘O’O crater since January 1983. Kilauea is the most active volcano on Earth and is also the most visited by tourists. It is because of this, volcanologists gather here and have a lab/station located on the rim of the caldera. One of the most recent volcanoes that join in effort to create the Hawaiian Archipelago islands as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaiian hotspot undersea. The 1983 eruption has been continuous to the date of this writing and onwards. 33 Eruptions have taken place since 1952 not including this 1983 occurence. She has been recorded to erupt in written history from as early as the 1820’s. Local history tells of the 1790 eruption that killed a party of warriors and their families traversing the area who were sent by the last chief of the island Keoua Kuahu/ula to resist Kamehameha I. In 1959 one of the most spectacular eruptions took place with lava fountaining nearly 580 meters into the sky. From 1969-1974 an eruption labelled “Mauna Ulu” began on May 24, 1969 and continued to July 22, 1974 being the longest flank eruption of any Hawaiian volcano in recorded history – creating a new vent spewing forth lava and adding significant land mass to the island. The 1983 eruption took place on January 3rd along the East Rift Zone from Pu’u ‘O’o and Kupa’ianaha vents, continously to this day, pushing lava flows travelling 11-12 km from the vents into the sea and to this date building over 2 km of new land. Additional lava flows in 1990 destroyed the towns of Kalapana and Kaimu, Kaimu Bay, Kalapana Black Sand Beach, and a large section of Rte 130. Most of her eruptions are non-explosive in the recent history but has had devestating large explosions in the past. Local legend places that this volcanoe is the specific home of the Hawaiian Goddess Pele. She only erupts when she is angry. Lava flows destroyed more homes in a 2008 eruption. Continuously erupting and flowing lava, one can view the flows at a place the government has set up an observation location. You an reach the caldera from Hilo via the Hawaii Belt Road which is State Route 11. The Caldera rests within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park which encompasses a portion of the volcano with its visitor center located near the margin of the summit caldera to overlook the large pit crater called Halema’uma’u which measures 3 x 5 km. Plumes fissure and erupt from three locations – the Halema’uma’u Crater, the Pu’u ‘O’o Crater, and along the coast where the East Rift zone enters the ocean. The plumes create large blankets of vog (volcanic fog) that envelopes the island. 90% of the surface of this volcano is less than 1,100 years old, and 70% of the surface is less than 600 years old. Located in Volcano National Park, there is a visitor center with lots of information about Kilauea, the region, the ecology, the geology, with exhibits about the volcano, plants, animals, and cultural history. A 20 minute movie is available as well as ranger-led activities. A gift shop is also available.

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08.07.09: STL Cronicles/Hearth Quest: Chapter 29: ‘Big Island, Volcanoes’

Coming back from the Kehena Nude Beach, Big Island

From the journal of Sir Thomas “Rymour Oisin” Leaf: Friday, The 7th of Sextilis (Julius Caesar’s “August”) in the good year 2009 of the Common Era

Volcano-Papao, Big Island, Hawaii
“We arose pretty early. Paula, David, and I had a bountiful breakfast of eggs, meats, and lots of tropical fruits. Delicious! In the mistly heart of the Volcano rainforest. Onwards we drove into Papao and hit a coffee shop where David (Kawika) had an interview with a local touring company. Caught up on some blogging while Paula perused used books and David did his interview. They seemed impressed by him and after he left I eavesdropped that they were interested. We dropped Paula off for her errands while me and Kawika headed off to the beach and to see the lava flows. Pitstopped at Walmart to pick up a mask and snorkel before hitting the beaches. Our first stop was an infamous black sand nude beach where we partook of some full body tanning. I made the mistake of trying to go in for a swim – sharp lava rocks + thrashing waves + stupid naked boy = lots of abrasions, scratches, and wounds. Swim didn’t exactly work as the thrashing waves smashed me into the rocks. Couldn’t find a good place to get into the water well, even though other naked swimmers had the luck. After the beach and toying around with trying to open some coconuts, we headed off to anothe black sand beach – the newest addition to Big Island where the island is growing daily, where this new peninsula made of lava beds took over the housing development thirty years ago. Oddly, I was standing on land that I was older than. How’s that for planet growth? I’m actually older than the beach on which I stand. Now I feel ancient, especially watching young teenagers partying on the beach. Age. Never before did it dawn on me how much older I’m getting every year – until now, I felt really young. After wandering around the lava beds, we stopped at the cafe for lunch – fish n’ chips. Then onwards, Kawika took me to the ‘Warm pool’ where I took a dip in the hot volcanic water springs that were meeting the ocean. Then onwards to a snorkeling spot that Kawika knew of … beautiful and enchanting underseas explorations … multicolored fish, red coral anemone, tropical fish, cucumbers, corals of many varieties … I knew now I need to get back into Scuba and work on getting certified again. Problem is as an asthmatic, it takes the right instructors willing to risk training an asthmatic. My brother long ago was working on certifying and training me, but then he moved off to do undersea welding across the sea and when he came back, his instructor license had expired. :: sigh :: someday. After swimming, we went to pick up Paula – her nail appointment was still taking place, so we went next door for a sushi/sashimi dinner with lots of sake. From there we drove out to the lava flows to see the island in formation and growth in the dark to watch the lava flow into the ocean. Of course, we were under-equipped again with flashlights, and stumbled across the treacherous lava beds with thousands of other folks trying to hop into their flashlights and not fall into crevices. A 1/2 mile walk across the lava fields shouldn’t of taken as long as it did, but without the flashlight and primarily navigating by moon light, it was a bit tricky. Because of safety, they kept the viewing area a distance away from the flows so you could only see it in the distance. Photos didn’t work out, but the video got better shots than the camera did. Afterwards we went back to cold and rainy Volcano for a nightcap back in the 4,000 ft elevation zone. Hawaii is an amazing set of islands. I wouldn’t mind living here, not at all.”

Lava Beds

Kehena Nude Beach / Dolphin Beach

Kalapana Lava Beds


Kalapana Village Cafe

The Coconut Palm

Pineapple Plant

Papaya Plant

Hot Ponds

Wai’opae (Kapaho) Tidepools

Kilauea Lava Flow

Big Island, Hawaii

Bruises from Kehena beach

Continue reading 08.07.09: STL Cronicles/Hearth Quest: Chapter 29: ‘Big Island, Volcanoes’


Kalapana, Big Island, Hawaii

Kalapana Village, Big Island, Hawaii

Kalapana, Big Island, Hawaii
Now just a little tourist stop-off and memorial, Kalapana was once a town in the region of the Puna District. It was demolished in the 1990 K?lauea lava flow from the Pu?u ???? vent which destroyed and partly buried much of the Kalapana Gardens and nearby Royal Gardens subdivision that Kalepana consisted of. In addition, the nearby towns of Kaim? and Kaim? Bay were also destroyed by this lava flow and now lie buried beneath more than 50 feet of lava which makes up Hawaii’s newest coastline and is the area of Hawaii that is growing daily. Most of the actual town has been cut off as it lies buried under the lava and is mainly accessed by very few locals who live there utilizing 4-wheel drive vehicles to get in and out. There is a bed and breakfast running in the town, a cafe, and a memorial garden.

Kalapana Village, Big Island, Hawaii

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Kalapana Lava Beds

Kalapana Lava Flows, Big Island, Hawaii

Kalapana Lava Beds
Off Highway 137, Near Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
The Kalapana Lava Beds are part of the ever-growing newly settled part of the Big Island of Hawaii. These fields are the remains of lava flows that devestated the Puna district area in 1990. Lava is a molten rock that is expelled from a volcano during an eruption. In this case, when in 1990 Kilauea exploded from the Pu’u ‘O’o vent, it destroyed most of the Kalapana Gardens and the nearby Royal Gardens subdivision which you would see today in these pictures had the lava not flowed over them nearly destroying all habitation in the area. When lava is formed in the interior of the Earth, it erupts from a volcanic vent, and is a flowing, growing, expanding molten liquid at temperatures from 700 °C to 1,200 °C (1,300 °F to 2,200 °F). Lava is viscous and 100,000 times the viscosity of water making it able to flow great distances before cooling and solidifying, because of both its thixotropic and shear thinning properties. This outpouring of lava, once it begins to solidify, such as when it hits the ocean such as in this instance, solidifies to form igneous rock. Not only was Kalapana destroyed, but also the nearly towns of Kaimu and Kaimu Bay which are currently buried beneath more than 50 feet of lava and is one of Hawaii’s youngest newest coastlines. The place is amazing and definitely not to missed on your trip to the Big Island. Such a strange and overwhelming experience to be standing on a beach and coastline that you may very well be older than. 5 stars out of 5.

Kalapana Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

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Thurston Lava Tube, Volcano National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

Thurston Lava Tube
Volcano National Park, Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
While visiting a friend who lives in Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii we took a late night cruise through the Thurston Lava Tube … which was absolutely fascinating. Not the first tube for me to go down as I’ve been in some in Washington and New Mexico, but have to say I’m always impressed by them. I could picture placing a underground home in one someday. So what are lava tubes? They are natural conduits formed when an active low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous hard crust which thickens and forms a roof above the still-flowing lava stream. It is a geological tube through which lava travels or once has travelled through beneath the surface of a lava flow that is expelled out by a volcano during an eruption. They are either actively draining lava from a source or are extinct meaning lava has cooled off and left a long cave-like tunnel. This is an extinct tube. As lava leaves the point of eruption in continuous extremely hot channels with cool surroundings that develop walls around them as the surrounding laval cools and the channel melts its way deeper – they often get deep enough to crust over forming an insulating tube that keeps the lava molten and acts as a conduit for the flowing lava. Pahoehoe flows are where lava is flowing in an unchanneled fanlike manner as it leaves the volcanic source taking a lava tube to lead back to the eruption point. These are areas of surface-moving lava that has cooled forming a smooth or rough ropy surface. Once the flow hardens, it starts to block its source, and only the subsurface lava is still hot enough to break out at a point creating a new source or underground channel known as a pahoehoe tube. Each tube often exhibits step marks called ‘flow ledges’ or ‘flow lines’ on the interior walls that show the various depths that the lava flowed. Most tubes have pahoehoe floors commonly covered with breakdown from the ceiling. Lavacicles (stalactites) or lava tube speleothems form in either splash, shark tooth, or tubular varieties as well as tubular lava helictites (drip stalagmites) are often formed in the tubes. Beads of lava that extrude from small holes that ran down the wall are known as ‘runners’. Sometimes crystalization occurs in the tubes forming crusts of small crystals from mineral deposits in the flows. Lava tubes have been measured to be up to 14-15 meters wide and as deep as 1-15 meters below the surface – they can extend for miles in many instances. For example, the Mauna Loa tube runs over 30 miles from its eruption point. The Thurston Lava Tube is part of Hawaii’s Volcano National Park and is easy to access within the park for a nice excursion it’s definitely worth seeing. The Park was established in 1916 and remains an active Volcanic area. Active eruptive sites include the main caldera of K?lauea and a more active but remote vent called Pu?u ????. K?lauea and its Halema?uma?u caldera are traditionally considered the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pele, and Hawaiians visited the crater to offer gifts to this Goddess. This tube is named after the Thurston family, the first western visitors to the site. They were English missionaries, William Ellis and American Asa Thurston in 1823. Their grandson, Lorrin A. Thurston, was the driving force to establish this park in 1916. There is an undeveloped stretch of this Lava tube that extends an additional 330 meters beyond the developed one show in these pictures and it dead-ends into the hillside. While blocked by a chain link fence to keep unwary visitors from entering, the easily traversed stretch is open to the public and accessible through a gate in the fence. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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