Having bombarded you with lava pix while dealing with my need-to-overshare Hawaii Problem, I thought it’d be nice to show the story of where the hot rock came from.
Let’s take that literally; all those glowing-lava pix were part of what the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory calls the “Peace Day flow from Pu`u `O`o vent” (check out the nifty Recent Kilauea Status page). Here’s its path down Kilauea’s side to the sea. You might have to enlarge the photo to see the line of plumes: volcanic smoke, steam, and burning vegetation.
The black-and-white version of that photo is remarkably dramatic, but I’m storytelling here and this one has more truth.
Let’s back off a bit. This isn’t that much of a photo, but does have a story to tell. We’re looking across the crater of Kilauea Iki, which was last a lava lake in 1959, out at the main Kilauea caldera. To the left is Halemaumau crater, which holds a lava lake right now, that’s why there’s smoke coming out of it. And the gentle bulge at the right rear is Mauna Loa itself, the Big Mama volcano that all these are fleas on the side of. One of the park guys told us that when Mauna Loa erupts, it pumps lava at a rate ten times greater than all of Kilauea put together. It’s erupted 32 times since 1843, most recently in 1950, 1975, and 1984. It’s pretty well due.
Now let’s look at some old lava. If you started from where that last picture was taken and headed a little west of north up to the top of Mauna Loa and went down the other side into the saddle between it and Mauna Kea, you’d come to a small, very old, cinder cone on which is the Kipuka Pu’u Huluhulu Nature Reserve. It’s got a little parking lot, a steep-and-slightly-scary path up the side, and the nicest little soft-green spot imaginable at the top, perfect for a picnic.
This is from there; these lava flows are, I don’t know, a whole lot older than those to the south; could be a hundred or a hundred thousand years. There’s not much rain up here so the lava weathers slowly.
Lava, it’s full of stories.