Lava Tubes, Hawaii (Big Island)
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!
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.
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 which can be walked 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.
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.
First you walk through a little mini rainforest, then you get into the tunnel. We all thought it was pretty awesome and of course the way it was formed is pretty awesome. If you are in Volcanoes National park already, you should definitely do it. Very easy walk for all of us, aged 4, 28, 58, 70. We finished it in about 30 or 35 minutes. It is cool up here so there isn't such a need for water as some other hikes, but do bring closed footwear because there are some damp areas inside the tunnel and water drips from the top. I definitely wouldn't recommend flip flops. Also, my dad hit his head so just be careful of where you are walking.
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.