Know Your Vol­ca­noes

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - AIR TOURS -

No mat­ter how you choose to fly, an air tour of the Big Is­land is likely to bring into view the is­land’s in­trigu­ing as­sort­ment of vol­ca­noes. Here’s a short, pre-flight brief­ing on some of them:

KI­LAUEA: One of the Earth’s most-ac­tive vol­ca­noes, lo­cated in Hawai‘i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park on the south­east­ern flank of Mauna Loa. This vol­cano has been pump­ing molten lava over the land­scape since 1983, si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­vel­op­ing new real es­tate and leav­ing de­struc­tion in its wake. In March 2008, the vol­cano caused a com­mo­tion when, for the first time since 1924, it let loose an ex­plo­sive erup­tion. It’s still spew­ing an ash-laden plume from a crater at the sum­mit and send­ing molten lava across the land­scape.

MAUNA LOA: A mas­sive vol­cano that spreads over half of the Big Is­land’s 4,034 square miles, Mauna Loa rises 13,680 feet from sea level. Mea­sured from its flanks on the ocean floor, the moun­tain reaches 30,080 feet at its sum­mit. Sixty miles long and 30 miles wide, Mauna Loa is the largest vol­canic moun­tain in the world and the third largest shield vol­cano in the so­lar sys­tem, smaller only than vol­ca­noes on Venus and Mars. It has erupted 39 times since 1832, the most re­cent be­ing in 1984.

MAUNA KEA: The tallest is­land-moun­tain in the world, Mauna Kea stands 13,796 feet above sea level and rises 32,000 feet from the ocean floor. At its sum­mit, where snow some­times falls, the world’s largest as­tro­nom­i­cal ob­ser­va­tory houses tele­scopes op­er­ated by as­tronomers from all over the world.

LO‘IHI: Fif­teen miles off the south­east coast of the is­land, Lo‘ihi thun­ders 3,000 feet be­neath the Pa­cific Ocean. Some­day, thou­sands of years from now, the sub­ma­rine vol­cano will emerge to form a new is­land.

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