In 2016, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will celebrate a century of caring for, and connecting people to, the remarkable landscape, native plants and animals and Hawaiian culture linked with Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.
The park’s new centennial logo depicts the three elements that define Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park: culture, geology, and biology.
In the center, Halema‘uma‘u Crater erupts on Kīlauea under a starry night sky. Massive, active Mauna Loa towers above the erupting crater. A nēnē is seen in flight and is a reminder of the success of the park’s nēnē recovery efforts. On the right “hip,” a petroglyph represents the human story behind the lava rock carvings found in the park at Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs. On the left, the lehua blossom, a sacred flower of Pelehonuamea, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, symbolizes the native ‘ōhi‘a tree found throughout the park.
Organizations that wish to use the park’s centennial logo can contact centennial coordinator Jessica Ferracane at (808) 985-6018 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for details.
Centennial events are planned in the park from Jan. 1, 2016 through the end of 2016, including a monthly ranger-guided Centennial Hike Series, with a complementary After Dark in the Park program. The park’s annual Cultural Festival & BioBlitz, scheduled for Sat., Aug. 27, 2016 (a fee-free day), will showcase how Hawaiian cultural practices weave science and stewardship together.
The park’s new Centennial web page features a new multimedia video, 100 Years in 100 Seconds, which highlights 100 years of volcanic eruptions in 100 seconds. In a second video, Share Your Story, Park Ranger Andrea Kaawaloa-Okita shares her story as a fourth-generation employee of Hawai‘i Volcanoes and the importance of connecting the next generation to their national park. The web page will be updated with a centennial calendar of events.
Founded on Aug. 1, 1916, Hawai‘i Volcanoes was the 15th national park established in the U.S., and celebrates its centennial anniversary along with the National Park Service itself, which turns 100 on Aug. 25, 2016.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park invites all fourth grade students to visit the park for free as part of the White House’s new Every Kid in a Park program. Starting today, fourth grade students can now go to www.everykidinapark.gov to complete an activity and obtain a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks.
“Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has a long tradition of connecting keiki and classrooms to the volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, and native plants and animals in their backyard,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Now we can expand the invitation by offering free entry to local and national fourth graders and their families for free, and connect the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates to the park as we enter our 100th year,” Orlando said.
Children who visit Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park can participate in lots of fun and engaging ways, like earning a Junior Ranger badge through the Junior Ranger programs, going on a ranger-guided program, signing up for a Kahuku ‘Ohana Day, and much more.
To receive their free pass for national parks, fourth graders can visit the Every Kid in a Park website and play a game to access their special Every Kid in a Park pass. Fourth graders and their families can then use this pass for free entry to national parks and other federal public lands and waters across the country from Sept. 1, 2015 through Aug. 31, 2016. The website also includes fun and engaging learning activities aligned to educational standards, trip-planning tools, safety and packing tips and other important and helpful information for educators and parents.
In addition to providing every fourth grader in America a free entry pass for national parks and federal public lands and waters, fourth grade educators, youth group leaders and their students across the country will also participate in the program through field trips and other learning experiences.
The goal of the Every Kid in a Park program is to connect fourth graders with the great outdoors and inspire them to become future environmental stewards, ready to preserve and protect national parks and other public lands for years to come. The program is an important park of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016, which encourages everyone to Find Your Park.
Every Kid in a Park in an administrative-wide effort, launched by President Obama, and supported by eight federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Education, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site closed Monday & Tuesday as staff assess damage from wildfire
Kawaihae, HI – Due to a brushfire that engulfed more than 4,650 acres in the Kawaihae area over the weekend, Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site remains closed Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 10 and 11. The park could open as early as Wednesday, once firefighters finish extinguishing smoldering hot spots in the park, and park archeologists assess any damage to cultural sites.
Pu‘ukoholā Heiau, the massive stone temple where King Kamehameha the Great launched his successful quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands in 1810, did not sustain any damage in the fire, nor did the older Mailekini Heiau below it. The homestead site of British sailor John Young, who served as King Kamehameha’s advisor, also appears unscathed.
The brushfire, exacerbated by strong winds and dry, hot weather, came within a few feet of the visitor center and park headquarters on Saturday, but was put out by firefighters before it reached the buildings. Although both facilities are without phone service and internet, the visitor center has water and electricity.
“We are incredibly grateful to all the agencies and volunteers who banded together to fight this fire,” said Park Superintendent Daniel Kawaiaea. “Thankfully, there were no injuries to visitors or park staff. We also appreciate the kōkua from our sister parks, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnauanau National Historical Park, Alakahakai National Historic Trail, and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, who are providing resources and staff,” he said.
The fire burned about 90 percent of the vegetation on the park’s 80 acres, and melted temporary solar light fixtures along its main path. Large blackened swaths of ground, once covered in plants, is now exposed throughout the park. The vegetation was a mix of non-native grasses and shrubs, and native species like pili grass, pua kala (Hawaiian poppy) and ma‘o (Hawaii cotton).
Superintendent Kawaiaea said a decision whether the park will hold or cancel the 43rd annual Ho‘oku‘ikahi Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival, scheduled for this weekend, Aug. 15 and 16, will be made by Tuesday.
“Our biggest concern at this point is the safety for the public, our employees and the festival participants,” Kawaiaea said. “In addition to the fire damage, there is also a tropical storm expected to impact us later this week.”
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park programs with the community and visitors in August. All programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and your $2 donation helps support park programs. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:
Kīlauea’s Night Skies: An Artist’s Perspective. Join Hawai‘i Island artist and interpretive guide Kent Olsen as he presents Kīlauea’s Night Skies: An Artist’s Perspective. Drawing on insights and perspectives developed through years of work in the medical imaging design field, as an interpretive guide at Mauna Kea Observatories and as a certified commercial guide at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Kent will present the night skies over Kīlauea in a way that is sure to provide a new perspective and may just change the way you see everything. Utilizing the current lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater as a point of reference, you will journey from the depths of the quantum realm to the edge of the cosmos. Olsen boldly attempts to describe the natural world in a way that makes the scale of the seemingly infinite something you just might be able to wrap your head around. Attendees are reminded the park is open all night for stargazing and lava glow viewing. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., Aug. 11 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium
Nā La‘au: Important Uses of Hawaiian Plants. Park Ranger Julia Espaniola shares her knowledge and love for some of the island’s native plants and their traditional uses. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai
Hālau O Mailelaulani is a Hilo-based hālau under the direction of kumu hula Mailelaulani Canario. Kumu Mailelaulani established her hālau in the mid-1970s to perpetuate the kahiko (ancient) as well as ‘auana (modern) style of hula. Today, her ‘auana performers participate in the annual Merrie Monarch festivities and are regular entertainers for the cruise ships through Destination Hilo. The hālau placed third in the 32nd annual Kupuna Hula Festival, Wahine Group Competition held in Kona in 2014. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ Nā Leo Manu, “Heavenly Voices” performances. Free.
When: Wed., Aug. 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium
‘Ukulele Lessons. Learn about the history of this world-famous instrument that plays a significant role in contemporary Hawaiian music. Join rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park as they share their knowledge and love of the Hawaiian culture. Learn how to play a simple tune on the ‘ukulele and leave with a new skill and treasured ‘ike (wisdom) to share with your hoa (friends) and ‘ohana (family). Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai
This news release is also posted to the park website.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park programs with the community and visitors in July. All programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and your $2 donation helps support park programs. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:
‘Ohe Kāpala. Learn to craft beautiful designs on a bamboo stamp to embellish cloth. Join staff from Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association who will share the traditional art of ‘ohe kāpala, bamboo stamping. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., July 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai
How Do We View Kīlauea? Join us for a deliberative discussion with Kumu Hula Manaiakalani Kalua and historian Philip K. Wilson, on Kīlauea’s place in Hawaiian culture and the history of science, and where the two perspectives intersect and encounter one another. Manaiakalani Kalua is a kumu hula, and a faculty member of the I Ola Haloa, Center for Hawai‘i Life Styles, Hawai‘i Community College. Philip K. Wilson is professor of History at East Tennessee State University, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. One of his interests is in Hawaiian history, comparing the significance of the volcano Kīlauea during the 19th century from the perspectives of naturalists, missionaries, and native Hawaiians. This program is co-sponsored by Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and funded in part by the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., July 14 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium
Hawaiian Ethnobotany. Learn about the uses and cultural importance of native plants and introduced Polynesian plants in Hawai‘i. Join rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park as they share their knowledge and love of Hawaiian culture. Engage in this hands-on event and leave with treasured ‘ike (wisdom) and a handmade Hawaiian craft of your own.
When: Wed., July 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai
Volcano Watch (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/) is a weekly article and activity update written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey`s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The dramatic opening of the Overlook crater within Halema‘uma‘u Crater on March 19, 2008, heralded a new period of activity for long time Kīlauea Volcano watchers.
Over the next several years, nearly continuous eruptive activity formed an active lava lake in the new crater. An active lava lake is one that overlies its vent, which constantly supplies lava to the lake anddrains lava from the lake. This circulation keeps lava in the lake hot and also generally keeps it from spilling from the crater. An active lava lake contrasts with a “passive” lava lake, which is simply a pool of lava formed when lava flows into a depression.
The active lava lake in Overlook crater is now the second largest lava lake on Earth, about 170 m by 220 m (560 ft by 720 ft) across. The lake is more than 100 m (328 ft) deep and Overlook crater itself deepened by 8 m (26 ft) in late April and early May 2015, when overflows onto the floor of Halema‘uma‘u built the rim higher.
Visitors to the summit of Kīlauea are now accustomed to the spectacular nighttime glow above the lake as it rises and falls in concert with summit inflation and deflation, as well as with expansion and episodic escape of gas bubbles.
Although relatively new to most of us, churning lava lakes are certainly not new to Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Indeed, from 1823 through 1924, a lava lake (or lakes) was nearly always present in the caldera, generally inside Halema‘uma‘u. Short-lived lava lakes played in Halema‘uma‘u several times between 1924 and 1968. Much of the time, however, visitors witnessed a scene quite different from today.
As one example, this nearly century-old print shows Halema‘uma‘u when much more of its floor was covered by a lava lake compared to today. Towering bodies of solidified lava called “crags” rise above the lake surface like battleships on the sea. At times these crags were so high that they could be seen by spectators at the old Volcano House nearly 3 km (2 mi) away. Visitors could sometimes view lava fountaining and hear noises of splashing lava from the hotel. Today, the clatter of breaking and falling rocks is, with favorable wind, audible outside Jaggar Museum, and the overflows in April–May were visible from many caldera vantage points.
In the early 1900s, the lava lake inside Halema‘uma‘u resembled a dynamic body of water in many ways. Thomas A. Jaggar, founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, used terms such as cove, bay, and inlet to describe lava pools and other features in the lake. The lava lake was typically impounded by levees made by overflows of lava from the lake, just as overflows of silt-laden water create levees along the Mississippi River.
This photograph shows what was known as the Southeast Crag, an 11-m- (36-ft-) high peak of solidified lava that had been twisted and tilted upward. As of yet, we’ve not seen any similar features developed in the current lava lake within Overlook crater. This may be because the present lake is impounded by the walls of Overlook crater, not by its own natural levees, which can change configuration and location with time. If such self-impoundment should develop in the Overlook lava lake, we may once again see crags, bays, and inlets.
We will share more of the rich photographic record of Halema‘uma‘u lava lakes from the last century in future Volcano Watch columns. Although they lack the vivid and mesmerizing colors of modern photographs, there is a stark beauty in these crisp, black and white scenes of lava in its myriad forms that we find equally compelling.
Kīlauea Activity Update
Kīlauea’s summit lava lake level fluctuated over the past week with changes in summit inflation and deflation, but remained well below the rim of the Overlook crater. During the past week the lake ranged between 40 and 65 m (130–210 ft) below the current floor of Halema‘uma‘u.
Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow continues to feed widespread breakouts northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Active flows remain within about 8 km (5 mi) of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.
One felt earthquake was reported on the Island of Hawai‘i in the past week. On Friday, June 12, 2015, at 1:07 p.m., HST, a magnitude-2.3 earthquake occurred 8.0 km (5.0 mi) east of Waimea at a depth of 13.0 km (8.1 mi).
Please visit the HVO website (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea daily eruption updates and other volcano status reports, current volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call (808) 967-8862 for a Kīlauea summary update; email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with the EPA’s Federal Green Challenge Regional Overall Achievement award as part of its efforts to encourage federal departments to reduce their environmental footprints through sustainable practices.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, located on Hawai‘i Island is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world. Located nearly 2,500 miles from the nearest continental land mass, the park stretches from the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet down to sea level. It encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, and attracts more than 1.6 million visitors a year.
“We applaud National Park Service staff for leading the way towards zero waste, and educating the millions of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This unique landscape deserves protection, and that starts with the commitment by the federal employees who work there.”
“We are extremely honored to receive this level of recognition for our climate-friendly efforts,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our staff is dedicated to implementing environmentally responsible practices, and we encourage our visitors and park partners to do the same,” she said.
The park had top regional achievements in the Federal Green Challenge Waste and Purchasing target areas, increasing recycling by 167 percent to achieve an overall recycling rate of 76 percent, while decreasing copy paper purchases by 89 percent. In addition, 95 percent of its cleaning products met Environmental Preferable Purchasing criteria.
Not only does Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park walk their talk behind the scenes, but park employees reach out to the community and visitors throughout the year through programs, exhibits and presentations on the values and importance of being climate friendly and sustainable.
The park actively works to reduce their environmental footprint in all six Federal Green Challenge target areas: energy, water, waste, electronics, purchasing and transportation.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to Hawaii’s largest public rainwater catchment systemthat stores 5.3 million gallons of water. The water is treated, filtered with cartridge and sand filters, and disinfected to supply water to 56 areas throughout the park. Water bottle refilling stations, posters, and sale of refillable stainless steel water bottles educate the public to “Step Away from the Plastic.”
In addition, the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center, which opened in 2011, earned a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council – and is currently the only federal building in Hawai‘i to receive LEED Platinum certification. The 4,896-square-foot building is powered by photovoltaic panels and is constructed from mostly recycled or reused materials.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has made more great strides in conserving energy. Park rangers ride electrically powered “Eco Bikes” to their programs along the Kīlauea summit, saving fossil fuels and parking spaces. The Kīlauea Visitor Center features special yellow LED lighting to conserve energy and keep night skies dark. Solar panels generate renewable energy, and electric and alternative fuel vehicles further reduce energy and transportation-related emissions.
The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort challenging federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government’s environmental impacts. In 2014, more than 400 participating facilities, representing nearly 1.3 million federal employees, “walked the talk” in various target areas and reduced their environmental footprint, which in many cases also resulted in significant cost savings. In EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, $3,486,990 was saved through reductions in energy, purchasing, transportation and waste.
Click here for the e-media kit.
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz Blends Best of Western Science with Traditional Hawaiian Culture
After two intensive days of exploration and documentation, the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival held on May 15 and 16, 2015, captured a vivid snapshot of the unique plant and animal biodiversity in park. The event brought together more than 170 leading scientists and traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners, more than 850 students and thousands from the general public. Together they conducted a comprehensive inventory of the plants, insects, mammals, birds and other species that inhabit the 333,086-acre island park. Under the theme of I ka nānā no a ‘ike (“By observing, one learns), alakai‘i were integrated into the survey teams for a more holistic approach to the research and exploration endeavor.
- More than 6,000 people, including more than 850 schoolchildren, participated in the BioBlitz and the concurrent Biodiversity & Cultural Festival.
- With a scientist-to-student ratio of 1 to 5, students were able to truly work side-by-side with top scientists.
- 22 new species (including jumping spiders) were added to the park’s species list, and sightings of 73 species at risk, including the Kamehameha butterfly and the federally endangered nēnē, were documented.
- The BioBlitz survey more than doubled the number of fungi species on the park’s list with 17 new fungi documented at the close of the event. Many more will be added in coming days and weeks.
- The initial scientific species count as of the afternoon BioBlitz closing ceremony on Saturday, May 16, was 416, with 1,535 observations recorded over the course of the two-day event. Organizers expect this number to increase significantly over the next several months as cutting-edge testing of the collected samples continues.
- The 35th annual Cultural Festival was moved from July to this weekend and expanded to include biodiversity booths and activities. The festival showcased how Hawaiians are true ecological experts and I ka nānā no a ‘ike principles continue today. The Biodiversity & Cultural Festival included hands-on science and cultural exhibits, food, art and top Hawaiian music and dance performances.
The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz is part scientific endeavor, part outdoor classroom excursion and part celebration of biodiversity and culture. Participants combed the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Activities included catching insects, spotting birds, observing plants and fungi, and using technology to better understand the diverse ecosystems across the park.
“The BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival presented an incredible opportunity to connect the community with leading scientists, international sister parks, and cultural practitioners this weekend,” said park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “This event embodies our National Park Service centennial mission to encourage everyone to Find Your Park — literally — by exploring and understanding our vital connection to our natural world,” she said.
“The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz was a wonderful combination of past, present and future,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for research, conservation and exploration. “It was so exciting to bring together western science and traditional Hawaiian culture and pair it with the great iNaturalist app, smartphones and pumped-up cell service courtesy of Verizon. I hope this holistic approach serves as a model for other BioBlitzes and scientific endeavors.”
The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Parks BioBlitz was the ninth in a series of 10 annual BioBlitzes hosted by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service leading up to the National Park Service centennial in 2016. During closing ceremonies, the BioBlitz flag was passed to Karen Cucurullo, Acting Superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Dr. Michael Stebbins, Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Science Division of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. The 2016 National Capital Parks BioBlitz, will feature inventory activities at national park sites in and around Washington, D.C., May 20-21, 2016. The capital celebration will the cornerstone of BioBlitzes and biodiversity events at U.S. national parks that same weekend.
The first BioBlitz was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., in 2007. The second took place at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California in 2008. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was the site of the third BioBlitz in 2009; Biscayne National Park outside Miami was the 2010 site; Saguaro National Park in Tucson hosted the 2011 BioBlitz; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado was the 2012 host park; in 2013 BioBlitz took place at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve outside New Orleans; and Golden Gate National Parks in Northern California hosted BioBlitz 2014.
Verizon is the lead sponsor of the 2015 Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz. Generous individual, organization and foundation support has been provided by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Rutherfoord Jr., Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Edmund C. Olson Trust II, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Additional generous corporate supporters include Kona Brewing Company, KapohoKine Adventures, First Hawaiian Bank, Roberts Hawai‘i, Alaska Airlines and Big Island Candies. In-kind donations have been received from Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company LLC, KTA Super Stores, Hawai‘i Forest & Trail, Impact Photographics and Aloha Crater Lodge.
About the National Geographic Society
National Geographic is a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. Each year, we fund hundreds of research, conservation and education programs around the globe. Every month, we reach more than 700 million people through our media platforms, products and events. Our work to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism and education initiatives is supported through donations, purchases and memberships. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Park rangers at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park rescued a lone hiker Thursday morning who was stranded on Mauna Loa after a winter snowstorm pummeled the summit and lower elevations with heavy snow and high winds.
Last Sunday, New York resident Alex Sverdlov, 36, began the grueling 18-mile trek from the top of Mauna Loa Road at 6,662 feet towards the summit of Mauna Loa. He reached the 13,677-foot summit on Tuesday, after dropping off his heavy gear at a lower elevation. The snowstorm struck on his late-afternoon descent, creating a blinding white-out. Night fell, and after a few futile attempts to locate his pack, Sverdlov decided to hunker down in the snow until daylight. His only protection was the clothes he had on, and a bottle of frozen water.
Earlier Tuesday, park management closed the mountain to visitors because of the dangerous weather. Sverdlov was the only registered hiker, and park rangers tried unsuccessfully to call his cell phone. They drove up Mauna Loa Road, and confirmed his car was there. When Sverdlov’s car was still there Wednesday afternoon, Park Ranger John Broward decided to search for him by helicopter Thursday morning. Sverdlov was located by 9 a.m.
“I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” said Sverdlov, an experienced hiker who successfully summited Mauna Loa last winter. After locating his pack Wednesday morning, the deep snow made it impossible to gain much ground, and he spent a second frozen night on the mountain. Sverdlov worried that he’d die on Mauna Loa, and was astonished when he heard the helicopter.
“Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park,” said Broward, who serves as the park’s search-and-rescue coordinator. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We’re all fortunate this had a happy ending.”
On Thursday afternoon, his face sun-burned and wind-whipped, Sverdlov applied for another backcountry permit, for the park’s remote coastal area. “This time I’m going to the sunny part of the park,” he said.
Today marks the 31st anniversary of Kīlauea’s ongoing Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption. This eruption ranks as the most voluminous outpouring of lava from the volcano’s East Rift Zone in the past five centuries. The eruption in Kilauea’s middle east rift zone started with a fissure eruption on January 3, 1983, and continued with few interruptions at Puʻu ʻŌʻō Cone, or temporarily from vents within a few kilometers to the east or west. A fissure eruption on the upper east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō Cone on Sept. 21, 2011, drained the lava lakes and fed a lava flow (Peace Day flow) that advanced southeast through the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision to the ocean within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in early December 2011. The flows stalled and re-entered the ocean starting on November 24, 2012 until activity started to decline and the ocean entry ceased in August 20, 2013; the flow was dead by early November, 2013. The Kahauale‘a flow, which started from the spatter cone/lava lake at the northeast edge of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater floor in mid-January 2013, was dead by late April, but a new flow (informally called Kahauale‘a 2) became active in the same general area in early May 2013. In general, activity waxes with inflation and wanes with deflation.
The eruption can be roughly divided in to five time periods. From 1983 to 1986, a series of short-lived lava fountains built a cinder-and-spatter cone later named Puʻu ʻŌʻō. In 1986, the eruption shifted 3 km (1.8 mi) northeastward along Kīlauea’s east rift zone, where a nearly continuous outpouring of lava built a broad shield, Kupaianaha, and sent flows to the coast for more than five years.
In 1992, the eruption moved back uprift and new vents opened on the southwestern flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Over the next 15 years, nearly continuous effusion of lava from these vents sent flows to the ocean, mainly within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The most significant change during the 1992–2007 interval was a brief uprift fissure eruption and the corresponding collapse of Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s west flank in January 1997.
In June 2007, an hours-long, unwitnessed eruption uprift of Puʻu ʻŌʻō led to renewed collapse within the cone and a brief hiatus in activity. When the eruption resumed in July 2007, new vents opened between Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kupaianaha, sending flows to Kīlauea’s southeastern coast until early 2011.
This activity was terminated by another short-lived eruption uprift of Puʻu ʻŌʻō in March 2011. Activity at Puʻu ʻŌʻō then resumed with a brief breakout from the western flank of the cone in August 2011, followed by the opening of a new, persistent vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s northeast flank in September 2011. Flows from this latter vent remained active on Kīlauea’s southeastern flank into 2013.
At this writing, the public is prohibited from hiking to Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s Kahauale‘a 2 lava flows on foot. These flows are within the State of Hawai‘i’s Natural Area Reserve, which is closed to the public. The closest that hikers can get to Puʻu ʻŌʻō from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is by hiking seven miles (one-way) to the Nāpau Crater overlook — a wonderful day hike, or choose to camp overnight. Aerial tours are one way to see the current eruptive activity from Puʻu ʻŌʻō close-up, but the best eruption viewingon foot continues to be from Kīlauea’s “other” eruption, happening at Halema‘uma‘u crater within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
For more in-depth details of the past 31 years, see the following links:
- 1983–1986, Rise of Puʻu ʻŌʻō
- 1986–1992, Shift to Kupaianaha
- 1992–2007, Return to Puʻu ʻŌʻō
- 2007–2011, Another downrift shift
- 2011–2012, A new eruptive period begins
For current eruption information, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.
Volcano Awareness Month
January 2014 is Hawaiʻi Island’s 5th annual “Volcano Awareness Month.” Today, as in the past, awareness is essential for us to live in harmony with the volcanoes that are our island home.
With this in mind, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in cooperation with Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense, will provide a month-long series of programs about the volcanoes on which we live: