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.