Here’s a big surprise: I’m exhausted yet again! Today was another early day, but lurching out of bed at an ungodly hour was for a good cause. You get a picture story because I’m not feeling particularly articulate right now.
Our ride arrived quite dramatically.
Once we had liftoff, the view towards Hawai’i's eastern coast just opened up.
To the northwest I could see Mauna Kea and the Northeastern Rift Zone (NERZ). The NERZ is where lava erupted through one of Mauna Loa’s flanks and poured down towards the town of Hilo.
The different types of lava flows are readily observed when you’re up in the air.
The helicopter dropped us off and went to move the other team of geologists working on the mountain. I was with a volcanologist who wasn’t afraid of taking pictures of me. Check out my stylish flight suit. In this scene I was recording our location with a GPS (global positioning system).
It just doesn’t get any cheesier or cooler than this.
After we were done collecting our samples, the pilot flew us back down by way of the caldera. The small cone in the middle of the caldera was created during Mauna Loa’s 1940 eruption. So cool.
The helicopter was one of the most fun things I’ve ever experienced. Flying over the world’s largest mountain in a helicopter (with no doors) on your way to do research is just a surreal activity. Ok, probably more to come. I need sleep, but there’s a 3.5-day weekend just ahead!