Kilauea, Hawaii (Big Island)
Kîlauea is one of the most spectacular volcanoes existing on Big Island in Hawaii. Rising 4,091 feet above sea level, the summit caldera is a broad shelf of uplands well beneath the long profile of Mauna Loa. It is a very low flat shield volcano lying against the southeast flank of the larger volcano known as Mauna Loa. It is one of 5 shield volcanoes that create the Hawaiian islands. The others are Kohala (extinct), Mauna Kea (dormant), Hualalai (dormant), Mauna Loa (active), and Kilauea (most active). The term "Kilauea" in Hawaiian means "spewing" or "much spreading" which refers to its frequent lava flows which has been flowing forth from from the Kilauea caldera/Pu'u 'O'O crater since January 1983. Kilauea is the most active volcano on Earth and is also the most visited by tourists. It is because of this, volcanologists gather here and have a lab/station located on the rim of the caldera. One of the most recent volcanoes that join in effort to create the Hawaiian Archipelago islands as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaiian hotspot undersea. The 1983 eruption has been continuous to the date of this writing and onwards. 33 Eruptions have taken place since 1952 not including this 1983 occurence. She has been recorded to erupt in written history from as early as the 1820's. Local history tells of the 1790 eruption that killed a party of warriors and their families traversing the area who were sent by the last chief of the island Keoua Kuahu/ula to resist Kamehameha I. In 1959 one of the most spectacular eruptions took place with lava fountaining nearly 580 meters into the sky. From 1969-1974 an eruption labelled "Mauna Ulu" began on May 24, 1969 and continued to July 22, 1974 being the longest flank eruption of any Hawaiian volcano in recorded history - creating a new vent spewing forth lava and adding significant land mass to the island. The 1983 eruption took place on January 3rd along the East Rift Zone from Pu'u 'O'o and Kupa'ianaha vents, continously to this day, pushing lava flows travelling 11-12 km from the vents into the sea and to this date building over 2 km of new land. Additional lava flows in 1990 destroyed the towns of Kalapana and Kaimu, Kaimu Bay, Kalapana Black Sand Beach, and a large section of Rte 130. Most of her eruptions are non-explosive in the recent history but has had devestating large explosions in the past. Local legend places that this volcanoe is the specific home of the Hawaiian Goddess Pele. She only erupts when she is angry. Lava flows destroyed more homes in a 2008 eruption. Continuously erupting and flowing lava, one can view the flows at a place the government has set up an observation location. You an reach the caldera from Hilo via the Hawaii Belt Road which is State Route 11. The Caldera rests within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park which encompasses a portion of the volcano with its visitor center located near the margin of the summit caldera to overlook the large pit crater called Halema'uma'u which measures 3 x 5 km. Plumes fissure and erupt from three locations - the Halema'uma'u Crater, the Pu'u 'O'o Crater, and along the coast where the East Rift zone enters the ocean. The plumes create large blankets of vog (volcanic fog) that envelopes the island. 90% of the surface of this volcano is less than 1,100 years old, and 70% of the surface is less than 600 years old. Located in Volcano National Park, there is a visitor center with lots of information about Kilauea, the region, the ecology, the geology, with exhibits about the volcano, plants, animals, and cultural history. A 20 minute movie is available as well as ranger-led activities. A gift shop is also available.
If the lava is flowing on the Big Island, (and there's never a guarantee that there is) you should definitely make the time to see it. This spectacular, never-to-be-forgotten sight may or maynot be confined to the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park -- nature has a way of snubbing its nose to such things -- but usually is made accessible by locals. In our case, the lava was flowing at the south end of Route 138 in May 2009, and we had to make our way through the lava covered Hawaii Gardens subdivision to get to it, on a road that was marked closed but opened for the occasion. A big parking lot was set up (with vendors, of course) at the head of a marked 1-mile trail. We got there late -- it would have been best to get there before sunset) and with only two flashlighhts, but we picked our way down the trail to the viewing area. There, our reward was an inferno of firey smoke from two fissures in the distance. Incredible!!
Be sure you're ready for the rough terrain on the walk. We ended up helping an elderly man exit the trail after he stopped half way in -- too many ankle twistings and a heavy thirst left him unable to procede.
this is a definite stop. ... on the Crater Rim Drive . It has large windows which a view of the caldera and main crater, Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. ENTRANCE FEES
$10.00 per vehicle - 7 days
$5.00 per individual - 7 days
$25.00 Hawai`i Tri-park Annual Pass
This small museum is a crash course through geology and volcanology. It’s founder, Dr. Jaggar, was originally from Massachusetts, but moved to the Big Island in the beginning on the 20th century to study the two biggest volcanoes in the area: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. He also invented the term volcanology which has been in use in 1912.
Dr. Jaggar wanted to educate people and make them understand how the volcanoes work. The museum is very small, but it has a lot of interesting information, samples of rock and lava, and even an old outfit that once belonged to a volcanologist that got too close to the burning lava.
Children love to jump in front of the working seismograph it is highly sensible, measures every tiny move, and records it on the giant roll of paper attached to it. Once you stomp in front of it your move will be detected by the seismograph and drown on the paper. Kids really enjoy this part of the museum.
The museum is located right by the Kilauea Caldera (Crater) and the entrance is free. 20 minutes will be enough to explore it all and later this info helps to understand things better.
Open: Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 4:00pm
This is a really neat thing to see. When we were here the lava was coming out of the pu'o vent out of the ground and the mountain was pouring out smoke. Also when we went you could not walk to it because it was unsafe. Sometimes the lava is not flowing out of the ground so if this is the only reason why you want to come here make sure that you will actually beable to see it when you go. Apparently at one point it actually was spewing out of the side of a sea cliff into the ocean. Since we could not walk to it and the only way to get to it was by helicopter we decided to go that route. The helicopter not only gave us a birds eye view of the lava and smoke spewing out of puu oo vent but a great view of hilo. We got some excellent pictures due to the fact that we decided to take the helicopter ride with the doors off so that was a little scary. This was one of the reasons why we choose the Big Island is for the lava, I have seen volcanos before but none that had lava.
For more info about the helicopter ride look at my other tips.
This was really neat to see. It is located inside the Hawaii Volcano National Part along with many other thing. You can walk down into the crater and explore to your hearts content. It is huge and can be a long walk down and a longer walk back up. You do want to be careful as their is smoke coming out of the ground and it's not called a volcano park for nothing. It was raining when we went mainly because it is surrounded by a tropical rainforest. Weather in this whole park is diffrent. We decided to not go down in the crater since there is an extreme amount to do here. So much to see so little time.
Thurston Lava Tube is located in the exzact same area so you do not have to drive your car anywhere. This was really neat to see and walk threw. Basically lave flowed threw here at one time and over time developed a hard outter shell which we can not walk threw. You can walk all the way threw and when you get to the end to go up and out of it there is an area that you can walk back into that is not lit up. You need a really good flash light if you want to see everything. I recomend more then one flashlight, if it goes out you will be in the tube for a while since it is pitch black. We did not know that you could walk all the way back therefore the only flash light we had was very weak. Will still managed to walk back and used the weak flashlight along with our flash on our camera to light up the tube more. One family was using their flash to walk around which I thought was dangerous since there are many things you can slip and fall on and I would not reccomend it. The tube is very wet and slippery so you must be careful. There are also many areas where water will drop on your head. No hard hats are required and the first part of the tube is well lit and maintained however is still has a rock ceiling if you get what I am saying. The second part is not maintained so enter at your own risk. I wish I would of had more time to go futher back into the second part.
The parking here is pretty crowded and there is alot of tour busses. Entrance into the park is $10 and is good for a full week for everything which includes this and many other things.
If your going wear long jeans, hiking shoes, rain jacket, umbrella and bring a plastic bag to put your camera in or a water proof back pack, and a strong flashlight preferably 2 of them. I would also suggest bringing a cloth to wipe your lens off as condesation can build up on it along with a cleaning kit. Hawaii in general made my lens soo dirty that I had to fight with my camera to get my lens off when I came back.
Kilauea Crater is huge! At the center of the action in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a view of this smoldering hole in the ground should not be missed. THe best place to get an initial view is the Kilauea visitors center, but as you drive Chain of Craters road, you get more intimate insights, seeing craters in craters and lots of Kilauea output in the form of hardened lava. Meanwhile, somewhere in the vicinity (though not necessarily in the park), Kilauea is venting. During our last visit, lava was pouring from a fissure somewhere outside the National Park boundaries, worrying local authorities that it will eventually cut off portions of the Puna Coast from the rest of the island. Before July 2007, Kilauea was flowing harmlessly into the sea, but a series of earthquakes changed that literally overnight. So, you can plan your trip however you want, but Kilauea may frustrate your plans. Just be happy she isn't engulfing your house!
Kilauea is a great place to take kids that are fascinated by rocks and lava. Stopping by any roadside turnout will engage the kids for hours as they investigate all of the shapes, nooks and crannies of the formations.
Halema'uma'u Crater is the crater-within-the crater of Kilauea Crater. This is believed to be the home of Madame Pele. When Mark Twain visited, he desribed it as "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone," as it was a bubbly pool of lava then. While we were there, you could see both craters, but it wasn't active.
We had a chance to view the craters from both the air and from the rim at Volcanoes Natl Park. The Halema'uma'u Crater was more visible from above.
Kilauea still continues to perform some spectacular fireworks by the sea. Lava which is venting from the Pu'u O'o crater on the south-eastern side of Kilauea is producing lava that flows down in shallow underground tubes, which ultimately pours into the sea. The walk out to where the lava is flowing into the sea is more than 3 miles from the end of the Chain of Craters Road in the National Park. The majority of the park visitors are not prepared (mentally and physically) to walk across the rough lava flows. Its a freaky experience.
There are steam vents like this all over the park.
Be careful around the steam because it can give you a bad burn.