Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

December 11, 2012

Hawaii - The Big Island - Day 3 &4 Volcano!

Eruption in Halema'uma'u crater inside Kilauea
We went to see the active volcano on our 3rd day.  Kilauea is the most recent and active volcano on the island.  For a while they thought it was a pimple on the side of Mauna Loa but have since decided it is a new volcano with it's own magma pipe.  When I first came here, I was lucky to have active hot lava oozing out of the earth near the end of the Craters road near the sea.  It was also pouring lava into the sea but I didn't see that part - just the VOG (volcanic smog) filling the sky.  There's nothing like being just inches away from hot red lava.  This time, the hot lava was in the center of the big new lava field and inaccessible.  We could see the VOG coming from and from the interior crater inside the big Kilauea crater.  It's become very active and at times has a lava lake in it now.  It pours out the VOG and the Park Service has closed half the road that goes around the caldera due to the toxic VOG.  They have cameras and an infrared camera in the museum so visitors can see what is happening.

Eruption in Halema'uma'u crater inside Kilauea caldera
from Volcano House

Close up of cracks in the caldera

Eruption in Halema'uma'u crater inside Kilauea

Green sand

Live thermal image of Eruption in Halema'uma'u crater inside Kilauea

Lava fountain from earlier in Halema'uma'u crater
Afterwards, we went back along the south end of the island.  There's another coffee belt area on the east slope of Mauna Loa about opposite of the Kona coffee belt.  At the southern edge when the road turns west, there's lovely little town of Na'alehu nestled on the green hills.  Once you get to the crest of the Mauna Loa southern ridge, it gets noticeably drier.  The constant trade winds hitting into the giant mountains really exaggerates the weather patterns.  The wet areas are very wet, the dry areas on the lee side are very dry.  At the high elevations it is also very dry because of an inversion layer that keeps the rain capped.

Day 4 - Over the saddle and the east rift area of Kilauea.

We went over the saddle road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to get to the eastern part of the saddle. We saw 4 wild turkeys by the side of the road.  The west side is twisty windy for 20 miles or so, then a wide broad road was constructed the rest of the way.  Makes it much easier to get from one side to the other.  We went up to the visitor's center on Mauna Kea.  We couldn't go all the way up because the rest of the road is 4-wheel drive only.  On the top of the saddle is 1935 lava flows that look almost fresh because of the dryness.  Going down the hill to Hilo is the wettest part of the island and hits 240 inches of rain a year.
Wild turkeys - west side of saddle road

Mauna Kea from near top of saddle

1935 lava flow on top of saddle from Mauna Loa with some cinder cones

Zoom on Mauna Kea - old weathered red lava dirt - lots of iron

Native Hawaiian caren at peak of saddle

East side of saddle road looking to the sea

We headed east to the end of the road on the eastern side of the fresh Kilauea lava flows.  It is very dramatic.  This is where the lava ate a whole subdivision and destroyed most of what is left.  Yet people are still living amidst the piles of lava around their houses.  I saw one house where they were rebuilding a structure.  They could have a new lava flow at any time but I suppose they are stuck with the houses they have.  Who would buy one in the middle of a fresh lava field along an active field?  The rift zone from the Caldera to the eastern point has had active lava flows over the last 50 years so really, all of it is at risk for new lava at any time.
2-3 year old fresh lava from new lava field

Rock caren at end of road

edge of the new lava field

That's where the new lava is oozing out of the ground
in the middle of the new lava field.  It would be a long
and treacherous hike to reach it.
We finished up going along the coast road.  A beautiful stretch of road with azure seas crashing up to black lava rocks and tunnels formed by tree canopies over the road.  A lady in a coffee shop said that all the sand beaches had been eaten by the lava.
East coast

Arch at the east coast

Lava from 1955 - East coast

HI137 road East end

Hala or Pineapple tree - native to Hawaii pre-Polynesians
It isn't related to the pineapple plant despite what it looks like.

HI137 road East end Issac Hale Beach


  1. Wow, I'm really behind on my blog reading. You are in Hawaii?? Very cool! And very interesting photos today too.

  2. This trip was in mid Nov. I've been sick and it's taken me awhile to get the blogging done.

    1. Oh I'm sorry you've been ill. I do hope you feel better now.

    2. Thanks. I am better. :-)

  3. Enjoyed this post. Hope you get to felling better.

    1. Thanks. I'm quite a bit better now.


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