Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 5 - Kilauea Iki Crater & Chain of Craters Route

It just keeps getting better!!!  The rain stopped and the sun came out for this spectacular day of hiking through very impressive features of Volcano National Park in Hawaii.

As a geology and geography interim - field excursions are a must and being in Hawaii gives us unprecedented opportunities to see the landscapes and geographies that simply cannot be completely understood from the classroom. That is why field trips are so vital to geology and geography.

Kilauea Iki (location to copy into Google Maps 19.413659,-155.247166) is a smaller crater to the east of Kilauea Caldera and it is impressive in so many ways.

Kilauea Iki crater is the small one on the right side labeled as number 3 on this map

In 1959, it exploded in the air with a lava fountain that went 1800 feet into the sky!  See in this image the reddish substance in the center, which is where the fountain material came out of Earth. The large mound behind it is the cinder cone. Beyond that is the crater in the Kilauea caldera, Halema'uma'u that we saw a couple of days ago, which you cannot see in this image.

Lava fountain location and cinder mound in Kilauea Iki Crater

We made our way down to the crater floor and Brianna gave us details on Pahoehoe (pronounced Pa-hoy-hoy) lava and A'a (pronounced ah-ah) lava.

Brianna sharing with our group

Then we traversed this amazing landscape to the fountain center next to the cinder mound. We saw some impressive striations on the cinder mound and sheer size of the features are hard to understand in scale from pictures. Here is our best efforts (note the students for scale and distance).

Professor Van Kooten and Ian surmise the crater floor

Striations in the cinder from the cutting as rock cuts rock when it slides down

Heading to the lava fountain on Kilauea Iki

Steven, Micah, and Brian up on the cinder mound

Tyler W. climbs the oxidized fountain material

We then made our way across the hardened lava field of basalt to a vent and to our time for lunch on the edge of the crater.

Steven and Jenna on a plume vent on the crater floor

Hiking to the other side of the crater (the cliff walls are about 450 feet tall)

Molten zones still are present deep under the lava lake crater floor. When rain water seeps down deep, water vapor like this is given off as the gentleman in the vent discovers

Professor Van Kooten explains how Kilauea Iki has been drilled and studied (note the device in the floor). He went on to explain that he worked years after this drilling with one of the geologists on this Hawaii project. Dallas Peck was the geologist who worked on the Hawaii project and who later became the director of the USGS

Kendra gave a wonderful talk on indigenous Hawaiian cultural religion and some of the animist practices on the Island present and past. Then Chad gave a devotional and shared encouragement to trust in God in all circumstances including future steps beyond graduation. 

Kendra talking about native Hawaiian religion to a group of tired hikers

Chad shares a devotional after most regained energy from lunch

Once we were out of the crater we headed straight for the Thurston Lava Tube. When lava flows across a landscape it can carve out a channel. Then the channel top surface will eventually cool and form a hardened surface. However, the lava is still flowing underneath through channel in what is called a lava tube. Once the flow ends, the tube is left to sometimes be discovered. Some tubes can go for miles. We went to a tube named after the man who discovered the tube. This tube was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston. The tube we walked through was 400 feet. Another section 1100 feet for folks with flashlights is also there, but it was closed to the public, so all of us were sad to have the tube end so early (there are many more to come!)

Micah, Leah, and Grant outside the Thurston Lava Tube

Tube Time!

400 hundred feet of wonderful lava tube walking

Professor VanHorn conquered the Thurston Lava Tube!

Returning to our vehicles on a hike led us back to the Kilauea Iki crater with impressive features shown here with Kileauea crater smoking in the background and Mauna Loa in the distance (the worlds largest volcano).

Kilauea Iki with the smoke from the lava lake in Kilauea in the distance

Two sisters and their brother

We then drove down the Chain of Craters road, which has many stop offs of various craters that have collapsed from many different lava flows through the years. Some of the lava fields were INCREDIBLE!

Hello vast lava fields from 1969 to 1974

A short climb on this magnificent lava basalt

Tyler W. on the A'A (the rough darker lava). Note the Pahoehoe on the left (smooth and lighter in color)

About the size of an adult hand, this one was waiting for a small critter to trap

Pahoehoe and A'A shown on the pali (Hawaiian for cliff)

At the end of the Chain of Craters road is the ocean and wonderful formations!

60 foot arch at the ocean

High Surf Advisory today. Yes, I would say so!

An earthquake could happen and if big enough, would take this crack and make a new pali on the ocean edge. Professor Van Kooten and Ian would be in the ocean with the rest of the land on the right (ocean side). Jaclyn and Kelsey would be on the new edge of the ocean wall cliff. Professor Van Kooten and Ian, please explain all of this on the other side.

We finished our incredible day with more hiking to Pu'u Hulu Hulu (Shaggy Hill) and Mauna Ulu (Growing Mountain). I must say that all of us were absolutly shocked at how impressive Ulu was! Totally worth the challenge of crossing the lava field.

Brian at 3200 feet on Mauna Ulu

Impressive water vapor coming from Mauna Ulu as Eric can see

A path less traveled - except for Calvin College students - Monitoring equipment at 3200 feet on Mauna Ulu

Thank you all so much for your love and encouragement and prayers. What an incredible experience in learning this has been so far.

Total Hiked Today: 8.6 miles
Total Hiked in Hawaii: 12.8 miles
Number of miles on the car: 302
Number of u-turns so far:12

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