Day 3: oh no, not more volcanoes!

If you’re not interested in volcanoes, have a look at this recipe for chicken with banana leaves instead.

Yesterday, the webcam at the Jaggar Museum (on display at the Visitor’s Center ) was a whiteout – you could only see cloud. When I stopped there this morning, there was actually something to see, so I headed to the Jaggar Museum as my first stop of the day.

First, some background. Kīlauea is one of five volcanoes making up the island of Hawai‘i It has a caldera a couple of miles across, and within it, a crater called Halema‘uma‘u, which became active again in early 2008. As well as this activity, there is activity which has been ongoing since 1983 at Puʻu ʻŌʻō, which now is the source of the lava flowing into the ocean I saw yesterday. As well as the main caldera, there’s also Kīlauea Iki (Little Kīlauea), which is a small crater on the edge of the caldera which filled with lava in 1959. See all this on a map.

Vent within crater within caldera

Vent within crater within caldera

From the Jaggar Museum on the northwest rim of the caldera, there was a good view of Halema‘uma‘u this morning. A plume of steam was rising from the smaller vent within the crater. While I was taking photos, another photographer (he had a Nikon camera, but I won’t hold that against him) came and spoke with me about photo stuff. He was one of the parents escorting a school group on tour from Oʻahu.

I then did other things (visited Volcano Art House, browsed gift shop, had lunch outside Volcano House), but they’re not very exciting so I won’t go into the details.

Orange specks crossing the crater floor

Orange specks crossing the crater floor

After lunch, I drove to the Kīlauea Iki carpark to check out the view. The place was thronging with kids in orange t-shirts, and Nikon Guy was there with them. We started talking again, and he suggested that I join them on their hike down to the crater floor so I did. It was quite a surreal experience, hiking across lava that was a molten lake just 50 years ago, and still has enough heat underneath to support several steam vents. I was also able to hear some of the commentary from the local guide who was leading the group. For instance, she spoke about the two main types of lava, ʻaʻā (which is rough and chunky) and pāhoehoe (which is smoother and ropy). The orange tshirts of the group added some interesting colour to the scene inside the crater.

Finally for the day, I drove down the Chain of Craters Road, which traverses numerous lava flows which have over the years added much new land to the coast. This was the main thing I saw in the park three years ago, although it was good to repeat the trip without low cloug/vog obscuring the view.

Today was a perfect demonstration of the scale of these volcanoes. We hiked around and across the crater of Kīlauea Iki, which is quite small compared to the main caldera, and yet we were just specks on its surface. It tends to put you in your place.

One Comment

  1. Anna says:

    “Position the leaf-wrapped food in the center of the Lava blob” – love it! Did you try it out?!

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