Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Volcanoes National Park

V is for Volcanoes National Park. That was the location of the USGS base of operations for the project John was working on.

Volcanoes National Park was created to preserve the natural setting of Kilauea and Mauna Loa. It is also a refuge for the islands native plants and animals and a link to its human past. The park contains two of the world's most active volcanoes, Kilawea and Mauna Loa and offers insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. If you want to see volcanoes, this national park is the place to go.

The park is extensive and offers visitors' centers, 150 miles of wilderness hiking trails, camping areas and more. When we were there we were able to take some of the hikes, including hiking through a lava tube, seeing the caldera and seeing the active lava flow from Kilauea making its way to the sea.

Kilauea isn't what I imagined it to be. When I thought of volcanoes erupting, the image that came to my mind was of a volcano spewing molten lava from its top. So although Kilauea Volcano has erupted lava almost continuously from its east rift zone since 1983, it is more like small streams of lava slowly oozing out from the side of the volcano. At times the flow is spectacular, but what we saw was pretty small compared to the image I had in my mind. Although not always spectacular, these lava flows have been significant because they have added over 568 acres of new land to the southern shore of Kilauea and covered 8.7 miles of highway with lava as deep as 115 feet. From 1983 to 1991, lava flows repeatedly invaded communities on Kilauea's southern coast. Not only did it bury the highway, it also destroyed 181 houses and a visitor center in the park. This is a shot of the lava flowing into the sea and forming more land mass.

Photo by Rick Reece - all rights reserved.

We walked across several areas where you could still see that there had been a road at one time but most of it was now covered with crusty, barren, sharp lava.

 Photo by Rick Reece - all rights reserved.

Walking out to the area of active lava flow was nteresting. Although the trail was marked, it was too easy for people to stray off the trail. It was hot and dry and we were glad we had taken water. The lava was very uneven and in some places still warm under our feet from lava that had been flowing in previous days. We were told that the lava flow was most spectacular at night so on our second trip to Hawaii, we went at night. Here is one of the pictures we took from about 10 or 12 feet away from the flow.

Photo by Rick Reece - all rights reserved.

Most of John's co-workers had gone to see the lava one night about a month after he arrived in Hawaii. He hadn't gone because just that day he had been biking and taken a spill that he was still hurting from. So he never got to see Kilauea - something he had looked forward to with great anticipation.

The most recent eruption of Kilauea took place in March of 2011 and was in a very remote and inaccessible location in the park. Visitors were not able to see the eruption except through video footage. That eruption has now ceased. No one can predict where the next eruption will occur.

Have you ever seen "live" lava flowing?


  1. I've never seen live lava flows, but I appreciate that you have. Thanks for sharing this on "V" Day during the A-Z Challenge. It's a pleasure to meet you!

  2. Just found you. Good to meet another member of the body of Christ!

  3. No, I haven't, up close. I saw Kilauea from a cruise ship at night. It was awe-inspiring. You are an active, brave person.

  4. I'm afraid I have not. I have never lived anywhere near such active volcanoes!

    Duncan In Kuantan

  5. You have found your Valhalla. Now, I have to read your other posts. Have a great day. (What am I saying? Of course, you're going to have a great day.) Aloha!

    Hello, fellow A-Z Challenger! Here's my latest entry. Come visit either of my blogs when you can and leave some comment love:

    W is for Wash Day, a Three-Wring Circus http://bit.ly/i6SsIG

    http://www.rockinchairreflections.com (A-Z)
    Twitter: @SolarChief

  6. i bet seeing those lava flows is just an amazing experience. Im so sorry John never got to see it.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.