Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hawaii's Kilauea: Living with a volcano

The State of Hawaii has many islands. The major ones are Oahu (where Honolulu and Waikiki are), Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island, which is also called Hawaii.

The Big Island is the biggest of the Hawaiian chain of islands. It is also the youngest, having been formed later than the other islands in the Hawaiian chain.  

The Big Island does not have the colorful theme parks, megashopping centers, huge zoos and museums, pulsating nightlife  and other attractions and distractions  major cities in the mainland have. What the Big Island has are spectacular natural  attractions that provide stimuli towards discovering the wonders of nature and thinking of our place in the universe.

If  famous Game of Thrones writer George Martin has a “Land of Fire and Ice,” the Big Island is a land of fire and ocean.   Like all Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island has spectacular beaches.  But unlike the other Hawaiian Island, the Big Island has at least two live active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

Kilauea volcano is more active than Mauna Loa.  For at least more than three decades now, Kilauea has been oozing lava not from its main crater but from a vent on its side called Pu’u’O’o.  Through all that there has been no activity in the main crater, called Halemaumau, until about three years ago when lava below it became more active enough that in the dark a red glow above the crater was visible.

In the past several days, however, Halemaumau more than just glowed. A bubbling  lava lake  rose to the surface sending  spatters to the  rim of the crater.

 One nice thing about living on the Big Island of Hawaii is that it only takes a few minutes ride from anywhere to be near the ocean or the volcanoes. I live on the east side of the Big Island and from where I am,  a  good view of Halemaumau is only about 40 minutes away. 
The other evening, after a grueling day working on a volunteer community project and having heard that Halemaumau has been putting on a "show," I went with friends to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see for ourselves. It was close to midnight when we got to the crowded parking lot of the Jaegger Museum inside the Park where viewing of Halemaumau was best.  And the  outside temperature was in the low 50s.

I was glad I had anticipated the cold and had put on a thick jacket. But still the icy wind made me shiver and I didn't mind touching bodies as I inched my way through the crowd to get a good view of  Halemaumau.

Halemaumau was mesmerizing to say the least.  From afar, I could see fire floating on the lake and fingers of it jumping to the rim as if attempting to escape.

Since none of the photos I took turned out well, I am sharing with you the photos that others took.  I hope that they give you the same sense of amazement that many of us residents of the Big Island enjoy and are grateful for.

Afterall, how many have a live volcano in their own back yard that is "friendly" enough that it only  gushes lava, instead of exploding as many volcanos tend to do. 

Life on the Big Island is never boring!
 Photo by Alan Lakritz, Big Island.,  April  2015
Photo by Ken Boyer, Big Island, April 28, 2015
Photo  shows lava-spattering Halemaumau on the left and six water spouts above the ocean on the right. Photo by Bruce Omori, Big Island, April 28, 2015 

 A peak inside Halemaumau. Photo by Bruce Omori, Big Island, April 29, 2015

 A moonbow and a volcano. Photo by CJ Kale, April 28, 2015

 The spectacular lava lake in Halemaumau. Photo by Tom Kualii, Big Island, April 28, 2015 
Lava churns the lake inside the Halemaumau crater. Photo by Bruce Omori, Big Island, April 29, 2015

 Photo by Orchidland, Big Island resident Art Smith, who was among those I drove out with  to Volcanoes National Park, April 28, 2015


 Posted with Aloha


  1. Few experiences match watching new land being born!

    1. For sure Mitch! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Great photos, thank you for sharing Ariel. Live viewing was pretty spectacular [and pretty cold.]