In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, right next to Kilauea Iki crater, is a large 500 meter-long lava tube that is 22 feet 22 feet tall wide and tall -- enough to take a comfortable walk through. In fact, the hardest part about going through Thurston Lava Tube might be the slight climb up and down to it. The tube itself is electrically lit, so you can't get lost. Created about 400 years ago when the surface around it cooled faster than the molten lava within, which then stopped abruptly, Thurston Lava tube is an easy and worthwhile walk.
Located inside the Volcanos National Park, the Thurston Lava tube is a huge tourist stop during the trip around the Crater.
I wasn't impressed. There is absolutely nothing, I mean nothing to this tube. It is an empty long tube. You walk a short distance to the other end, and you are done.
If you are short on time, ship this...you really aren't missing much.
The lava tube is in a rain forest. A completly different environment than the rest of the park we visited. A nice cool short walk through the forest then throught the tube and back through the forest to our car. Sorry my pics from inside the tube didn't turn out so well. This is a picture of the rain forest on top of the tube.
We drove along the coast road to where the lava flow draped itself across the tarmac... after parking the car and the easy bit of the walk along a moonlit paved road we really started to sweat.
To get to the flowing lava we hiked across cooled fields for an hour and three quarters... I say hiked, more like jumped, climbed scrambled and hopped with plenty of *oopses soddits and bloody hells* as we wended our merry way... I have a lot of sympathy with Rock Hopper penguins now.
You follow the yellow markers until it says *trail ends* then you are on your own, but somewhat guided by red glowing marker posts... we did all this at night, made difficult by picking our way using torches. However, it was well worth it!
The first impression of the flowing lava is hearing a crackling noise, like sharp popcorn.... then the sulphur smell and finally the intense heat... if you weren't sweating because of the warm night and the climb, you certainly were as you started to take pics...
The sight of TropicGirl77 tapdancing merrily across fragile crusts of hot lava was an experience... I said *what's burning?" she said "you are... keep moving" as my shoes started cooking. I must admit, seeing it in the dark helped to find the glowing hot spots and avoid 1st degree burns, I rarely get nervous but I was distinctly leary by the time we reached safe ground.
Wouldn't recommend the actions of one idiot, lying in the path of the flowing lava to get *that shot*, supposing you had a sudden paralysis??? doesn't bear thinking about.
Lava tubes are natural conduits through which lava travels beneath the surface of a lava flow. Tubes form by the crusting over of lava channels and pahoehoe flows. A broad lava-flow field often consists of a main lava tube and a series of smaller tubes that supply lava to the front of one or more separate flows. When the supply of lava stops at the end of an eruption or lava is diverted elsewhere, lava in the tube system drains downslope and leaves partially empty conduits beneath the ground. Such drained tubes commonly exhibit "high-lava" marks on their walls, generally flat floors, and many lava stalactites that hang from the roof. Lava can also erode downward, deepening the tube and leaving empty space above the flowing lava.
They're real interesting to walk in. Sort of eerie.
A geological phenomenon created as a result of volcanic eruption and lava flow is known as a lava tube. Moreorless, an air bubble forms inside of the lava and the lava actually hardens before the air bubble bursts, leaving a sizable "tunnel" or "tube". The Thurston Lava Tube may be the most well known, and a walkway and steps have been built to aid tourists who want to go inside. Lighting has been installed which gives you a better way to see the inside which looks something like hewn rock. Notice the seeping water along the walls. Worth the short stop to check it out!
After walking the floor of the Kilauea Iki crater, we crossed the Crater Rim Road for this 20 minute diversion...
Formed about 350-500 years ago when a large vent called the Ai-laau shield was erupting on the east side of Kilauea's summit. A collapse next to the Kilauea Iki pit crater created two other small craters and one of these provides access to the lava tube
The trail descends along the wall of the crater then across its floor through Hawaiian rainforest, this area can be slippery when wet, which is often and we have to be very careful as it was raining a fine drizzle at the time.
The surrounding forest is one of the parks's Special Ecological Areas as alien species are destroying the native ecosystem. To protect native habitats within the park, rangers are removing alien species and building fences to keep out feral pigs.
When the eruption stopped, the lava drained from the tube, leaving a 400 feet (120 m) long tube that you can walk along and experience the eerie feeling of walking in the depths of the earth! Given the otherworldly nature of the National Park, it did feel as though we were stepping into the pages of Dante's Inferno!
The tube is named after Lorrin Thurston, a newspaper publisher that played an instrumental role in creating the the Volcanoes National Park. The Thurston lava tube is also called by its Hawaiian name, 'Nahuku', which refers to the small protuberances on the walls of the tube.
It is a great experience been close to this nature formation. When you drive from the Kailua-Kono airport you can find one of them.
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