Tag Archives: Lava

Cloud over Mauna Loa eruption

A cloud forms over the site of the eruption on Mauna Loa , Hawaii

On my way to work yesterday, I pulled over to photograph this view of Mauna Loa, early on day three of the current eruption. The heat and emissions from volcanic eruptions can create their own weather. Here, smoke and gasses from the most active vent can be seen rising up into a cloud over the northeast slope of the volcano.

Posted for Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge. See more responses here.

Mauna Loa erupts

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

Yesterday, my morning commute was enlivened by the sight of Mauna Loa erupting. The eruption started late Sunday night and the report I read, before leaving home, said the eruption was currently confined to the summit crater. That clearly wasn’t the case when I took these photos on the way to work. The quality isn’t great because they’re hand-held, but I think they illustrate the scene reasonably well.

In the top two photos, the red smoke is the glow of the lava, but the white/yellow bits are the lava itself. This was a flow moving down the slope of the volcano.

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

By the time I got to work, the sky was lightening but the lava still stood out. In the bottom photo, Mauna Kea is left center, with a stunning sunrise developing behind it. Mauna Loa is on the right and the activity can clearly be seen on the left (northeast) slope of the volcano, some way down from the summit.

Mauna Loa erupts on the Big Island of Hawaii

When I got home, I read that three vents had opened on the northeast rift zone of the volcano, though only one was still active. Flows from Mauna Loa can reach the ocean in a matter of hours, depending on where they’re coming from and going to. This flow is currently heading towards the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, which is mostly a military training area and undeveloped land. The main current danger is from gasses and Pele’s hair, thin strands of brittle volcanic glass, being carried from the volcano to communities downwind. However, new vents could open farther down the rift, bringing lava closer to human habitation.

Changes in eruptions on Mauna Loa can happen pretty quickly so, as usual, the advice here is be prepared and keep tuned to updates on the situation.

Switchbacks

A switchback on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
A switchback on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most popular in the park, but I’ve never found it crowded when I’ve been there. It features two very different environments, the walk around the heavily wooded crater rim and the crossing of the barren lava on the crater floor, about 400 feet below.

Since the trail is a loop, one has to descend the steep crater wall at one end and climb up the equally steep crater wall at the other. At both ends, the trail is heavily switchbacked to make this possible. For the hiker, the positives of this are that the trail is less steep than a straight shot would be, and the switchbacks are good spots to take a break and get a variety of views.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/. Posted for Becky’s Squares theme of “Walking” (See more responses here).

A switchback on the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The trail across the crater floor.

Lava in all its colors

A variety of colors can be seen in this lava on the Puna Coast Trail (posted here).

This week’s Sunday Stills Monthly Color Challenge is ‘Lava.’ See more responses here. I don’t often run photos I’ve posted before, but this seemed like an opportune instance to rerun some older photos that are perfect for this theme. I’ve put captions on the photos and a link to the original posts for those interested in checking them out.

Old brown lava surrounded by black lava from a more recent flow (posted here).

Home is where the tube is

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians
A sign in front of a lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

The public parking area for shoreline access at Mauna Lani is some distance from the ocean. From the parking lot, the trail meanders across some old lava, but off to one side is this interesting little spot.

It’s part of an old lava tube that was used as a shelter by early Hawaiians. Lava tubes are created when lava flows crust over on top, creating an insulated tube that lava continues to flow through. When an eruption ends and the supply of lava disappears, the lava drains out of the tunnel it’s been flowing through and a hollow tube is left.

As the sign at the entrance says, the tube would have been cool during the heat of the day, but would also protect from wind and rain. These days, the floor is strewn with rocks, but when used for habitation, any rocks would have been removed leaving a reasonably smooth floor. In the photos, the ceiling looks low, but I’m over six feet tall and didn’t have to duck. It’s a big area.

The top photo shows the entrance taken from the back of the tube. The bottom photo is taken from the entrance, looking toward the back.

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

First visit to Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Meaningful Memories.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

Going to see the fireworks

The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021

Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Day in Britain and to celebrate I finally got to see some fireworks, albeit of a very different kind and in the wee hours of the morning instead of the traditional Bonfire Night.
I got up just after 1 a.m., left the house around 2 a.m. and drove over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I mostly had a beautiful starlit night for the drive except for about 15 minutes over the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa when I was driving through cloud and not entirely sure whether there was any other traffic despite barreling along at 60 mph.

I made good time, arriving at the park around 4:30 a.m. and the viewing point about 15 minutes later. There were around 20 people already there, but a prime viewing spot was open so I set up my tripod and camera and began taking photos.

The viewing area was a place I’d stopped by during the previous eruption in December 2020. That spot only allowed a view of the glow of the eruption, which was lower in the crater. This time the eruption was higher up and the trail had been extended so that a good view could be had of both the eruption site and the crater floor the lava was flowing onto.

The eruption began on September 29, 2021 through a series of vents, but by October 4 this had settled down to two vents and by October 6 to the single vent in the west wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater seen in these photos.

The eruption has added about 184 feet of lava to the previous lava lake level and though it appears to have slowed a tad lately, it still put on a good show with a good deal of spattering and some smaller fountains of lava. The active vent has formed its own cone with lava spilling into the lake through a gap in the cone. Recently, a bridge formed over that cone so that the lava spills out though a short tunnel as can be seen in these photos.

I stuck around until the sun rose high enough to illuminate the slopes of Mauna Loa and then headed back to the car. After a spot of hiking, the return drive and some shopping in Waimea. I got home around 2:30 p.m.. A long day, but well worth it in my book.