Hawai’i – Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

This morning we drove up to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.  We stopped at the visitor center to find out the status of the volcanic activity. Looking at this map, we visited #1 and #2.


Bear and Bearbette got on the relief map to show you where we were staying – Pepeekeo.


and where we were near Kileaua.


Kilauea is the youngest and most active Hawaiian shield volcano, located on the southern part of the Island of Hawai’i. Kilauea volcano is near-constantly erupting from vents either on its summit (caldera) or on the rift zones. At present, Kilauea volcano is still having one of the most long-lived eruptions known on earth, which started in 1983 on the eastern rift zone and has mainly been concentrated at the Pu’u ‘O’o vent.
Kilauea volcano, a youthful shield volcano, sitting on the south east flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, is the youngest volcano (on land) of the Hawaiian hot spot and not only the most active volcano of Hawaii but at the same time also the world’s active volcano.
Its eruptions are prominent in Hawaiian Polynesian legends and written documentation about its activity go back to only 1820s when it started to attract interested visitor from all over the world and became one of volcanology’s hot spots.
Kilauea has a large summit caldera with a central crater, Halemaumau, which is according to Hawaiian legends the home of the fire goddess Pele. Until 1924, it contained a lava lake. Kilauea has frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that are occurring along two elongated rift zones to the south-west and to the east, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano’s surface is younger than 600 years. The long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

We got the latest information from the National Park Service about the lava flow into the ocean –

The “firehose flow” at Kīlauea Volcano’s Kamokuna ocean entry was clearly visible from the public lava viewing area established by Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, but the lava had crossed the road closing it, so now you need to drive around and access from the other side. This was because on February 2, 2017,  the section of sea cliff above the ocean entry collapsed  at about 12:55 p.m.  Hiking out to the  lava flow from the park is allowed, but it’s not for everyone. From the Coastal Ranger Station, it’s a grueling, 7.4 mile roundtrip hike. Hikers may walk along the gravel emergency access route for the majority of the hike. And to do the hike you need to bring a 2-4 liters or quarts of water per person, sun protection, a hat and wear strong hiking boots or shoes. If you hike out later in the day, you need to have a good flashlight and extra batteries as it is pitch black out there.  So no we were not going to do this hike.  And there was no guarantee that you could see the flow into the ocean from land.  The other ways were to go by helicopter or by boat.  Neither were recommended by the National Park Service as when the lava enters the ocean it sometimes causes large eruptions throwing rocks etc far into the air or even out to sea. There have been reports of rocks hitting and cracking the windshields on helicopters.

But before we go up to Kilauea to see the latest activity we should talk about Pele.

The following was Written by Lady Gryphon

Pele the Fire Goddess (Pronounced peh-leh or pel-lə) – is one of the most well known and revered in Hawaiian mythology. As a sign of respect you may hear her referred to as Madame Pele or Tutu Pele.
She is a goddess of fire, lightning, dance, wind, volcanoes and violence. Her poetic name is Ka wahine `ai honua or the woman who devours the land. She is both a creator and destroyer. She throws molten fountains into the air and governs the great flows of lava. With her power over the volcanoes, she created the Hawaiian Islands and to this day, she has been known to reveal herself throughout the beautiful islands she crafted herself.

No Kahiki mai ka wahine `o Pele,
Mai ka `aina mai o Polapola,
Mai ka punohu a Kane,
Mai ke ao lapa i ka lani.

The woman Pele comes from Kahiki,
From the land of Polapola,
From the rising mist of Kane,
From the clouds that move in the sky.

According to legend, Pele lives in one of the most active volcanoes in the world. She calls the summit of Kilauea, in Halemaʻumaʻu crater home. Although, her reach is throughout Hawaii nei.
The Hawaiian (Polynesian) goddess of the volcano, she was born in Honua-Mea, part of Tahiti. One of a family of six daughters and seven sons born to Haumea (a very ancient Earth goddess) and Kane Milohai (creator of the sky, earth and upper heavens). She was exiled by her father because of her temper. The final straw being a fighting with her elder water-goddess sister Na-maka-o-Kaha’i, whose husband Pele had seduced. Pele’s oldest brother, the king of the sharks, Kamohoali’i, gave her a great canoe, upon which she and her brothers traveled far from home, over the wide expanse of the seas, sailing on this great canoe eventually to find Hawaii.
All the while, Pele battles with her sister Namakaokahai who is a Sea Goddess. During this perilous journey she carried her favorite little sister, Hi’iaka (or Hi’iaka i ka poli o Pele – Hi’iaka in the bosom of Pele) in egg-form all the way to the Hawaiian islands. That makes Hi’iaka the first God of the Pele family to be born in Hawaii.
When Pele got to Hawaii, she first used her Pa’oa, or o’o stick on Kauai — striking deep into the earth but she was attacked by her older sister and left for dead. Pele recovered and fled to Oahu, where she dug several “fire pits,” including the crater we now called Diamond Head, in Honolulu. After that, she left her mark on the island of Molokai before traveling further southeast to Maui and creating the Haleakala Volcano.
By then her older sister Namakaokahai, realized Pele was still alive and she went to Maui to do battle. Finally, the epic battle ended near Hana, Maui, where Pele was torn apart by her sister. Legend says her bones remain as a hill called Ka-iwi-o-Pele.
Upon death, she became a god and found a home on Mauna Kea, on the Island of Hawai’i. There she dug her final and eternal fire pit, Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kilauea Volcano. Known as the Navel of the World, Ka Piko o ka Honua — were the gods began creation. She is said to live there to this day and is thought to be very happy there.

So now on with our story – day-9-3 we proceeded on to the Jaggar Museum observation deck, about a mile from the eruption site, the closest visitors can get. We are about 4,440 ft in elevation here.


Bear and Bearbette looked over the Halema’uma’u crater inside the Kilauea caldera.  You can see a bit of the lava lake – see the little bit of red over Bearbette’s shoulder.


With this image you can see the crater and some of the edges of Kilauea’s caldera. Also notice there are a number of steam vents within Kilauea’s floor.


A little closer view.


Even closer.


And closer still.

And a panorama –


And Carol posing with the lava showing behind her.


This is quite some view.

What you are seeing is some spattering in the lava lake. We didn’t smell any sulfur so the wind was in our favor.

Here is the NPS report, which they do every morning.

Summit tiltmeters recorded a switch to DI inflation yesterday afternoon. The lava lake surface rose along with the tilt and was measured at about 30 m (100 ft) below the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu crater this morning. Seismicity rates were at background levels and tremor values fluctuated in response to changing lava lake circulation, spattering, and rockfalls. Sulfur dioxide emission rates ranged from about 4,600 to 5,800 metric tons/day over the past week, when measurements were possible during trade wind conditions.


We then drove around the Chain of Craters Road around the different craters and down to the sea,  day-9-11 stopping by a steam vent near the road.

day-9-15 day-9-14 taking the view of where we were before from the other side of Kilauea’s caldera.  Not sure you can see it but in the first image about a third from the right along the lighter grey line – you might be able to see some people who are hiking a trail.  This should give you a bit of perspective as to how high up the rim of the caldera is.

Of course, for those who know Carol, she will find flowers anywhere – even here in a volcanic area.  day-9-12

day-9-16and even guava growing in the lava field.  day-9-17




Here is some lava tracks – day-9-18



As we almost reached the ocean, looking back at the ridge we drove down, you can see where previous lava flows happened (dark area, whereas the areas skipped are green).



At the end of the road (due to the lava flow over the road) was also a spot to view Hōlei Sea Arch.  At present, the sea arch is about 90 ft. (27.4 meters) high. The creation of this sea arch was within the last 100 years. This beautiful formation has a limited life span. The sea arch will eventually crumble and will no longer be a feature of the park. However, another will replace it as the cliff slowly migrates inland. This impressive sea arch was cut into the cliff of an ancient lava flow, about 550 years ago. The term used in the creation of this sea arch is “differential erosion”, which is the difference in the hardness of various layers of lava flow.


And the view of the coast line looking towards the current lava flow into the ocean.


As we drove back we could see the steam from where the lava was flowing into the ocean


We stopped at a couple of older craters – day-9-34

And Carol was finding more flowers.





I even found one – day-9-37

These plants were amazing growing in what seemed to be rock.


And people had to add to the look.


Another crater – day-9-41

And the 1979 lava flow – day-9-39

I found out there are different kinds of lava.  I always thought it was that smooth flowing stuff we see on tv.  Ha. Sometimes it looks like a freshly plowed field.  This image show two different kinds with a tree line in the distance.


And just a little bit of color against the black lava field.


My final image is of a tree bleached white – laying on the lava.  It looked like a person crawling to me.




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