Last week we took an overnight trip to the Island of Hawaii (a.k.a the Big Island) for my birthday. This was my first visit to the Big Island so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very different from our home on Maui.
First, we flew on the tiniest plane I have ever been on. This little prop plane (pictured above) seats just 9 or 10 passengers. We all had to get on a scale while holding our bags and were seated according to weight to properly balance the plane. This was the most terrifying and exhilarating flight of my life. My birthday was off to a pretty good start.
Thirty minutes later, we landed in Kona and then drove approximately three hours to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I didn't mind the long drive as it gave us the opportunity to see much of this fascinating island. Driving through the ever changing landscape of desolate fields of lava rock and lush rain forests, the climate would change from blaring sun and stifling heat to cold and rainy every ten minutes.
Six volcanoes fused together by lava flows have formed this island over millions of years and it is still growing. The summit of Mauna Loa stands 56,000 feet above the depressed ocean floor making it over 27,000 feet taller than Mount Everest. Mauna Loa and Kilauea are two of the world's most active volcanoes and the constant flowing lava continues to change the shape and size of the island.
|Nahuku also known as Thurston Lava Tube|
In the middle of the rainforest lies the 500 year-old Thurston lava tube. One minute we were walking though dense flora listening to the symphony of jungle creatures and the next we were in a dark and slimy cave-like channel. Without the lights mounted along the walls, we would have been in total darkness. I was able to take this photo (above) using a very long exposure and then brightened it up in Photoshop but even with the lights it was difficult to see far ahead.
This was my first time ever walking through a lava tube. What an amazing experience! If you've never had the opportunity to walk through a lava tube I would highly recommend it!
Here is a photo I took of the lava flow along Chain of Craters Road. The darker layer of lava is the more recent lava flow.
In this photo you can see the path of the lava flow from above. When it reaches the ocean it cools and forms new land.
|Holei Sea Arch|
This is a 60 foot (18 m) tall sea arch formed by wave erosion.
The rugged coastline formed by molten lava and the harsh ocean waves.
A 2003 lava flow closed Chain of Craters Road for good.
|A "Road Closed" sign permanently embedded in lava rock|
Sulfur Crystal and other minerals deposited by volcanic gases paint the rocks in shimmering colors.
|This summit caldera was formed in a catastrophic collapse|
This is a view of the Halema'uma'u crater from the overlook on Crater Rim Drive.
|Lava pours into the sea, creating new land|
|Origin and Ascent of Magma|
A little lesson on Seismic Activity at the Jaggar Museum. Jump up and down and to see how much seismic activity you can create.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a United States National Park and is listed as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.