Discovering Geology in Hawaii
Standing in the barren “moonscape” surrounding Hale Ho`okipa (The House of Welcome), visitors to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park got a special peek into the unique geologic history of Hawaii. As part of National Park Week, retired petroleum geologist Mark Solien led visitors on an adventure through the dramatic landscape of the Park. Before starting out on the tour, Mark unfurled his large topographic map of Hualalai Volcano, the lesser-known active volcano on the island. Showing visitors the various flows streaming from the mountain, Mark talked about the age of the flows and about the two basic types of flows: aa and pohoehoe.
From there, visitors were off to explore the Park’s lava fields for themselves. Now, for many visitors to Kaloko-Honokohau, the lava fields seem stale and barren; just a mesh of ugly rocks sprawled out as far as the eye can see. Mark, however, showed visitors the dynamic nature of lava. At one point he asked his audience to look out at the lava field where they were standing and see if they could figure out which direction the lava flowed. Visitors were surprised to see that instead of moving away from the mountain towards the ocean, this lava flow actually appeared to be flowing towards the mountain! By seeing “geology in action” Mark’s audience was able to understand that like water, molten lava always flows towards the lowest point.
If you would like to join Mark on an exploration of Hawaiian geology, contact the Park at (808) 326-9057.