Day of exploration.

29 06 2008

Yesteday was gorgeous on the island. I did some necessary grocery shopping in Hilo and then headed to Chain of Craters Road to explore the park a bit. I’m living at the USGS dorm while I’m here, so that was my post-grocery starting point.

Dorm, sweet dorm.

Chain of Craters Road runs through lava field of varying ages. The lava is often cracked and deformed. This is a Pahoehoe lava flow that has fractured.

Pahoehoe fracture

As I continued to the end of Chain of Craters, I came across something ominous:

An effective deterrent.

If that’s the road sign, then where’s the road? Oh, right.

4WD only, right?

At any rate, I decided to get a closer look at all of this lava. It’s actually very interesting up close.

Who knew?

The small holes in the lava are called vesicles, which makes this a vesicular basalt. The more large vesicles present, the slower the lava cooled. Rapidly-cooled lava won’t have vesicles. The vesicles are formed by gas escaping from the molten lava. This one is my favorite.


From the end of Chain of Craters I was south of the current eruption’s ocean entry point. I’ll go around closer soon, but for now here’s the sulfur dioxide plume caused by the lava’s contact with water.

Fire and water.

Finally, I headed back towards the dorm. On the way back I stopped at Thurston Lava Tube. These are cave-like structures formed when lava moves beneath the surface of a flow. When they’re extinct, they look like this:

Freaky when you\'re alone.

I went up to HVO last night around midnight to see the glow from Halema`uma`u’s vent. It faded in and out due to the shifting of the wind, but it’s still enthralling to watch glowing from the earth’s depths. Today is a day for relaxing, as tomorrow I leave at 6AM to drive to Mauna Loa’s summit for my first day of field work. Wish me luck!




5 responses

29 06 2008

I was there!!! I was just telling Joe(for the 100th time) about my Dad’s visit to Hawaii and the day we spent at the Volcano park. When you posted about the webcams, I’ve been checking them out every day.

30 06 2008

The webcams are so cool. That and the SO2 monitoring data are so interesting to watch.

I wish you were out here now. Then I could use a weekend to visit you! (Or you could visit me here.)

30 06 2008

Good luck honey. You’ll enjoy yourself and have a great experience tomorrow.

30 06 2008

Jess with your eye for the camera and detailed writing its like i’m there. When i go to hawaii i will def have to visit the park, but is some of it off limits to the public? Do you have all access? Have fun tomorrow. Oh and i went back and checked the web cam during the day and had a great view. Now i will check to see if there is the orange glow you are talking about.

30 06 2008

Hey Melissa,

The Observatory where I work is off-limits to the public, but there’s a public museum right in front of it. Everything is this post is easily accessible to the public except for the dorm.

Thanks for the nice words! The glow comes and goes as the vent’s activity increases and decreases (it also has to do with wind and vog, too).

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