Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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These photos were taken in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and at various stops during the drive along the Chain Of Craters road that winds through the Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Big Island is the site of present day volcanic activity in the Hawaiian island chain and visitors to the park will witness first hand both the destructive and constructive forces of nature.

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Kilauea Caldera Halemaumau Crater

Kilauea Caldera and Halemaumau Crater
First glimpse as one exits Volcano House.

Halemaumau Crater in Kilauea Caldera
The Caldera wall visible as a cliff
on the right side of the photograph.

Sulfur Banks Sulfur Banks

Sulfur Banks

Sulfur Banks

Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail

Another view along Devastation Trail

Keanakakoi Crater
A Laccolith is visible to the right
on the back wall of the crater.

Thurston's Lava Tube Thurston's Lava Tube

Entering Thurston's Lava Tube

Inside Thurston's Lava Tube Looking Out

A'a and Pahoehoe Lava Southwest Rift Zone

A'a and Pahoehoe Lava
Some geology: In the photos one can see
more recently erupted A'a lava (on the left)
next to older Pahoehoe (on the right).

Southwest Rift Zone

Pu'u O'o
Pu'u O'o
Pu'u O'o

Pu'u O'o, Active Flank Eruption, Kilauea Volcano, Big Island
The above 3 photos were taken while on a helicopter tour of the Big Island.

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A'A lava: Hawaiian word used to describe a lava flow whose surface is broken into rough angular fragments.

Laccolith: A body of igneous rocks with a flat bottom and domed top. It is parallel to the layers above and below it.

Lava tube/tunnel: A tunnel formed when the surface of a lava flow cools and solidifies while the still-molten interior flows through and drains away.

Pahoehoe lava: A Hawaiian term for lava with a smooth, billowy, or ropy surface.

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/glossary.html

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Kilauea Caldera

Caldera: The Spanish word for cauldron, a basin-shaped volcanic depression; by definition, at least a mile in diameter. Such large depressions are typically formed by the subsidence of volcanoes. Crater Lake occupies the best-known caldera in the Cascades.

"Kilauea Overlook, about 2 miles (3 km) east of the Visitor Center, provides an excellent view of Kilauea Caldera. On the horizon is the Ai-laau shield. This vent was active about 350-500 years ago and sent lava all the way to the ocean. The path to the overlook is on ash from the 1790 explosive eruption of Kilauea. The caldera probably formed during this eruption. Collapse to produce the caldera is the result of magma withdraw from the chamber 3-6 miles (2-4 km) below the summit. Kilauea Iki is in the center of the photograph. Puu Puai cinder cone is on the rim (just right) of Kilauea Iki. In addition to ash, large blocks up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter are on the rim. These blocks were torn from the walls of the vent and thrown to their present location. The tephra deposit from the 1790 eruption is only a few feet thick on this side of the caldera. Kilauea Caldera has changed dramatically in the last 150 years. Geologist, James D. Dana, made significant contributions to the understanding of Hawaiian volcanoes and is considered by some as America's first volcanologist. Prior to 1924, a large lava lake covered most of the floor of the caldera. Since the 1924 eruption, lava has been restricted to Halemaumau or fissures in the summit area and, overall, the caldera is being filled gradually by lava."

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Parks/hawaii/crater_rim_drive/menu4.html

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Halemaumau Crater

"A walk out to the overlook of Halemaumau Crater convinces even the strongest skeptics that Kilauea is an active volcano. The gases released at the crater make an immediate impression on one's sense of smell and taste. The high amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) are hazardous to young children, pregnant women, and the elderly and these people should avoid the area. Adjacent to the trail are blocks thrown from Halemaumau during an explosive eruption in 1924. The 1924 phreatic eruption was caused by a rapid drop in the level of a long-lived lava lake within Halemaumau that allowed ground water to come in contact with hot rock. After this eruption the crater was 1,345 feet (410 m) deep. Since 1924, Halemaumau has been gradually filling with lava from numerous short-lived eruptions. The longest of these eruptions lasted about eight month from 1967-1968. Halemaumau is about 280 feet (85 m) deep and 3,000 feet (915 m) across. The prominent ledge about half-way up the crater wall marks the high stand of the 1967-1968 lava lake. The floor of the crater collapsed in 1971. The lava on the floor of the crater is from the 1974 eruption that was erupted on the southwest rift zone just outside of Halemaumau. Halemaumau is also the home of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, making it a sacred place to Hawaiians. It is not unusual to see offerings to Pele, such as sacred Hawaiian plants, left on the rim of the crater."

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Parks/Hawaii/crater_rim_drive/menu7.html

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Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail is a hiking trail that goes through an area that was once a forest filled with trees and greenery. It was destroyed in the 1959 eruption at Kilauea Iki Crater and is still recovering. It passes through an area once totally covered by more than 6 feet of lava. When walking on the trail, you can see the transition from barren area filled with volcanic material, to a lush, dense forest full of life. The trail runs from a point off Crater Rim Drive to Kilauea Iki Crater. Today life has returned to parts of the trail as trees and shrubs fight their way up through the flow. This photo reminded me of a landscape that might cost hundreds of dollars to reproduce in suburbia USA: the driftwood, shrubs, black volcanic cinders and pink wildflowers, appear to be laid out with a detailed plan in mind. Hardly seems like a random act of nature. In fact, in tropical climates, weathering of rock takes place quickly and one can see the formation of thin soil and the beginnings of new plant life, often within only one year after a lava flow's destructive forces change the earth's surface.

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Sulfur Banks

Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island of the Hawaiian Island chain in the Pacific Ocean. The Big Island boasts the highest peaks in the Pacific and a land mass more than twice as big as the other Hawaiian islands combined. At an age of 800,000 years, this youngest Hawaiian island has been formed by lava flows from five distinct and immense volcanoes. Two of these volcanoes remain active today, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
On the Big Island even volcanoes seem to embody a sort of mellow volcanic aloha. Although they are among the world's most active volcanoes, they are relatively gentle and approachable (but only in designated areas!!). Radiant fountains, lava lakes and luminous streams characterize Big Island eruptions. With low lava gas contents, Hawaiian volcanoes are safer and more accessible than others. (A huge buildup of gases precipitated the catastrophic explosion of Mount St. Helens in 1980.)Since 1983, relentless flows from fissures in Kilauea have consumed villages and beaches, and extended Big Island bluffs further into the indigo sea.
"Sulphur Bank is a solfatara. A caldera fault, exposed just north of the Sulphur Bank, serves as a passage way for gases that originate at deeper levels in the volcano. Moderate amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and high amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are released at Sulphur Bank. In the past this area has been used as a health spa and sauna.

Crystals of native sulfur precipitate on the rocks when the gas reaches the surface. The crystals are fragile (please don't touch). Other minerals, including gypsum, opal, and earthy hematite, form by the weathering of the rock and the precipitation of gases. Gypsum and opal occur as white coatings on the rocks. Hematite is red, like the rust on a car, and stains the rocks in the foreground.
The sulfur banks, one of the many stops along Chain Of Craters Road is proof positive of the presence of magma beneath one's feet in the Park. The smell of sulfur (rotten eggs) permeates the air and the rocks are stained yellow with mineral deposits that settle out of the venting steam."

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Parks/Hawaii/crater_rim_drive/menu2.html

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Keanakakoi Crater

"Keanakakoi pit crater is 115 feet (35 m) deep and about 1,500 feet (450 m) wide. Keanakakoi means "place of the adze" and is named for a dense layer of basalt that the Hawaiians used for making tools. Lavas from an eruption in 1877 buried this layer of rock. The lava on the floor of the crater is from the 1974 eruption. In August of 1971, Kilauea erupted from fissures in and along the southeast part of the caldera. Although this eruption was only 10 hours long, it was very spectacular, generating fountains up to 250 feet (75 m) high, lava cascades, and lava flows that covered nearly one-fifth of the caldera floor. Lava is moving away from the fissures to the north (top left corner). Photograph by D.W. Peterson, U.S. Geological Survey, August 14, 1971. Kilauea erupted again in July of 1974 from fissures in the Keanakakoi area and the south part of the caldera. Prior to the eruption, tilt at the summit decreased rapidly and tremor increased sharply. Lava covered the floors of Keanakakoi and Lua Manu craters. Notice the three erupting fissures. Crater Rim Drive is along the bottom of the photo. Photograph courtesy of the US Geological Survey, July 19, 1974. Lava from the fissures cascaded over the rim of the caldera and nearly buried all of the flows from the August 1971 eruption. The lava moved north in a natural moat that rings the caldera. The moat is a result of the more frequent eruptions near Halemaumau that built that area higher. The eruption lasted about three days. Photograph by D.W. Peterson, US Geological Survey, July 20, 1974. Three spectacular spatter ramparts are near Keanakakoi crater. They can be visited along the trail that leads to the caldera overlook. A lava spillway (bottom center of the photo) drained lava onto the caldera floor. Photograph by E. Rodriguez, US Geological Survey, August 1, 1974."

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Parks/Hawaii/crater_rim_drive/menu8.html

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Pu'u O'o Volcanic Vent

Pu'u O'o is a "small vent that has built up as part of the Kilauea eruption that started in 1983. This is the longest continuous eruption known from the flanks of Kilauea volcano. If you want to travel somewhere to see red lava, Kilauea is the best place in the world to go!"

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/img_kilauea.html

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Thurston's Lava Tube

"The lava tube formed about 350-500 years ago. At that time a large vent, called the Ai-laau shield, was erupting on the east side of Kilauea's summit. Lava from this vent buried the entire north flank of Kilauea, all the way to the ocean. After the eruption ceased, the summit of the vent collapsed to produce the Kilauea Iki pit crater. Additional collapse adjacent to the Kilauea Iki pit crater produced two other small craters. Access to the lava tube is through one of these small pit crater. The trail descends along the wall of the crater then across its floor. The 20-minute walk at Thurston Lava Tube will give you a close-up look at a Hawaiian rainforest and the lava tube. Be careful, the trail can be slippery when wet. This photograph shows the lush vegetation inside the small pit crater. When the eruption stopped the lava drained from the tube. The trail within the tube is 400 feet (120 m) long. The tube extends beyond the main trail before pinching off (permission to visit this part of the tube must be granted at park headquarters prior to entry). The tube is named for Lorrin Thurston, a newspaper publisher that played an instrumental role in creating the park. Thurston lava tube is also called by its Hawaiian name, Nahuku, which refers to the small protuberances on the walls of the tube. Photograph by T.J. Takahashi, US Geological Survey, September, 7, 1984. The surrounding forest is one of the park's Special Ecological Areas. Aggressive alien species are changing ecosystems in much of Hawaii. To protect native habitats within the park, rangers are removing alien species and building fences to keep out feral pigs. Pigs disturb the native plants, which helps to introduce alien plant species, and spread disease, like avian malaria."

Credit: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Parks/Hawaii/crater_rim_drive/menu10.html

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Southwest Rift Zone

"About 200 years ago, as Kilauea caldera formed, large volumes of ash erupted at the summit and lava erupted on the lower east rift zone. The ash blankets the summit of Kilauea volcano. Hawaiian eruptions are characteristically very gentle. However, under certain conditions, they can be violent. The following quote describes the events at the summit of Kilauea during the 1790 eruption as witnessed by Hawaiian warriors. 'The company in advance had not preceded far before the ground began to shake and rock beneath their feet and it became impossible to stand. Soon a dense cloud of darkness was seen to rise out of the crater, and almost at the same instant the electrical effect upon the air was so great that the thunder began to roar in the heavens and the lightening to flash. It continued to ascend and spread abroad until the whole region was enveloped and the light of day was entirely excluded. The darkness was the more terrific, being made visible by an awful glare from streams of red and blue light variously combined that issued from the pit below, and being lit up at intervals by the intense flashings of lightening from above. Soon followed an immense volume of sand and cinders which were thrown in high heaven and came down in a destructive shower for many miles around.
Some few persons of the forward company were burned to death by the sand and cinders and others were seriously injured. All experienced a suffocating sensation upon the lungs and hastened on with all possible speed.' Written by Kamakau and reported in Westervelt's Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes. The eruption also killed eighty Hawaiian warriors about six miles (10 km) southwest of the summit. The warriors were returning to the Kau district to defend it from an attack by Kamehameha. Some viewed the eruption, which reduced the strength of a rival chiefs army, as a demonstration of Pele's favor of Kamehameha. Kamehameha ultimately united and ruled all of the Hawaiian Islands.
The southwest rift zone is one of two rift zones on Kilauea volcano. The rifts are weak areas in the volcano where it is being pulled apart. Magma, a few miles below the surface, moves from the summit down and through the rift. It pushes sideways against the volcano, causing it to spread. The brittle rocks above this intrusion cannot stretch. Instead, they crack. The cracks on the southwest rift zone are associated with a magnitude 7.9 earthquake that occurred in 1868. Shortly after the earthquake, a batch of magma left Kilauea's summit and traveled down the rift zone. As the magma moved down the rift it caused the cracks we see at the surface today. Sometimes the magma in the rift rises to the surface to generate an eruption. This happened twice in the early 1970s on the upper southwest rift zone. In September of 1971, an eruption began on the floor of the caldera and migrated into the southwest rift zone. It was the first eruption on this rift since 1921.
Although inflation of the summit of the volcano and earthquake activity had increased in previous weeks, harmonic tremor, an indication that magma was moving, began only 50 minutes before the eruption. The geologists living in the park were altered by an alarm that was triggered by earthquakes. They managed to get to the observatory in only eight minutes and witness the onset of the eruption. The eruption lasted five days producing lava fountains, cascades of lava into Halemaumau, flows which crossed the road, and new cracks in the rift zone. History repeated itself in September of 1974. Again, an eruption began on the floor of the caldera and migrated into the southwest rift zone. The eruption lasted four days and covered much of the lava erupted in 1971.Crater Rim Drive crosses the main fault that defines the southwest edge of Kilauea caldera. The fault is draped by the 1790 ash deposit, indicating that the caldera was already in the process of forming when the ash began to erupt."

Credit :http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/Parks/Hawaii/crater_rim_drive/menu6.html

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