by sam on 30th December 2014 7 comments
Yesterday was awesome! We booked a helicopter tour to fly over the active volcano on the Big Island, pretty much the only reason we came the extra little flight the other day, for Geology J to see his volcanoes up close!
All of the Hawaiian islands are essentially Volcanos that erupted out of the sea, and currently 4 of the worlds 5 biggest volcanoes are within the Hawaiian Islands, 3 on this Big Island. Mauna Kea erupts every 200 years usually and it's been 214 years, but at the moment it's happy dozing and looking pretty with its snow cap (in Hawaii?!)
Mauna lua erupts every 6 years, though it has slow eruptions not big mushroomy explosive ones, and is showing signs of rumblings inside apparently. The park rangers there reckon a year or so til it goes; a volcanologist J overheard in the National Park thought sooner than that!
The Kilauea volcano started erupting in 1983 and is still active now. This is the one we primarily came to see.
On top of the crater
Kilauea is absolutely huge, it doesn't have a tall peak anymore as that collapsed in on itself back in an eruption in the 1930's, but it's about 30 miles by 20 miles wide. It dribbles out molten lava constantly from whichever points can't cope anymore. Currently it is erupting from the top crater, that you can get to within 0.5 mile of, by visiting the national park museum, and also it's second eruption has burst through the east side flank, spreading the lava field about 30-100yards a day.
The edge of the lava flow is sitting about 0.3 miles away from a town called Pahoa currently, and just as they were on the point of evacuating, it retreats and heads off in a different direction.
It has taken out miles and miles of rainforest, cutting through 100ft tall trees like blades of grass...from the air it just looked like someone has poured hot black tar over parts of their lawn...the scale is incomprehensible! The destruction this things is doing is indescribable!
The helicopter ride took us over the second crater, it doesn't have a massive red molten lake any more, the lava pool is too far inside the the crater now, and the changeable Big Island weather means that the lave cools and blackens more or less instantly when it hits the cold wet air at the top of the volcano. We saw a good few spots of red and some fractures across the black swirly lava fields showing the red lava beneath, and a few areas where the roof part has caved in exposing sunlights of lava beneath.
As a non-geologist (on the brink of being travel sick at this point) I was completely amazed; as someone who fancied being a volcanologist in his Uni days, J was just completely in awe of it all.
Girls at sunset
We couldn't go over the top of the central crater in the chopper because this one is emitting much thicker smoke, that is polluted with this volcanic glass, which looks like spiders webs on all of the trees when it collects, but in the gas cloud, it is tiny particles with are impossible to remove from the lungs...we thought that sounded like a good idea to give that a miss!
This crater can be seen clearly from the museum though, just a big plume of smoke in the day, but as the sun fades the glow from the lava lake below begins to show, and is absolutely mesmerising by sundown.
Thurston Lava tubes
We had a fab volcano day, the kids really enjoyed it, though I think Liss was a bit bored of going up in the sky again (she couldn't really see the difference from going up in another plane!) but J's enthusiasm for it all was contagious!
Our last stop was a walk through an old lava tube, where lava insulated inside previously cooled stuff managed to stay molten for longer and keep flowing through, tunnels were created when the lava eventually drained out...great fun in the dark with torches, and amazing that no man helped in the making of them! :-)
Just awesome. Mesmerising supped it up for me.
Awesome! Happy New year to u all. Xx
Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Prosperous 2015.
Wow what an amazing experience and do educational for the kids! They will have do much to talk about at school! Happy new year xx
Finally caught up on all your blogs and can't wait for the next instalment! Hope you guys have had a lovely New Years Day and that John didn't miss a walk with the Chorleys too much ;) xxxxxxxx
It was truly amazing, and the helicopter wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Missed you at new years Rach, J has been enjoying lots of walks on the trip (even morning beach ones)...wonder whether that will continue to cold days in the UK though?! xxx
Chedzoy/Burnham/Weston/Anywhere in Somerset in January is no Hawaiian beach ;-)