|The Pu'u O'o cone from above Hilo|
Pu'u O'o is the invisible volcano on the Big Island. It's been the center of eruptive activity for much of the last thirty years, but there are very few easily accessible localities from which it can be seen. One pretty much has to fly over it to see anything at all.
We are continuing a journey to understand the Hawai'i That Was, seeking to understand the islands as they were before European contact, and before Polynesians arrived a thousand years earlier. Understanding the islands requires an understanding of volcanism. The islands exist only because of lava, and in observing active eruptions we see the origins of each of the Hawaiian islands.
|Getting closer to the Pu'u O'o cone. Notice the lack of surface flows of lava. It's almost all beneath the surface in lava tubes.|
|The location of the lava tube system was obvious. Every so often the roof of the tube would collapse, forming a skylight that emitted steam and other gases.|
look here for a recent video), but we've been home for nearly two weeks. We just plain missed it.
|Looking into the crater of Pu'u O'o, source of the lava flows|
|A rootless shield on the Pu'u O'o lava flow.|
|Active lava flows on the slopes below Pu'u O'o. This would have been a real spectacle at night.|
|A skylight over a lava tube.|
If you are having trouble visualizing the scale, realize that we never dropped below 500 feet in altitude. The skylight above is probably 30-40 feet across.
In the next post, we'll see evidence of a conflict between the gods and humans as they settled the island, a conflict that continues today.