Friday, June 12, 2009

Report from the Road: Hawaii volcanoes 2

An early morning drive to the 9,000 foot level on Mauna Kea provides a wonderful view of Mauna Loa, the biggest and tallest mountain on our planet! Mauna Loa is the second most active of the Hawaiian volcanoes, having last erupted in 1984. It erupts every few decades, and is capable of doing tremendous damage in a very short time. Her lavas cover 50% of the Big Island, and numerous villages, ancient and modern, have been inundated. A flow on the west flank in 1950 traveled around 6 miles an hour, giving people almost no time to evacuate.

The cinder cones in the foreground are late stage alkali basalts from Mauna Kea. Dozens of such cones surround the summit of the volcano, providing a stark contrast to the smooth outline of the Mauna Loa shield.

I felt privileged to see such a beautiful, yet menacing sight!