Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 7 - L A V A !

The word for the day is of course: Lava.

The Kilauea volcano is currently one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Its 'plumbing' system goes all the way from the volcano down to the coastline where it is emptying into the sea and forming new land building up, which grows the Big Island

To start our day, we drove down to the coast where a former town once stood and where now a 10 mile across lava field exists with one main ocean entry location where lava is pouring into the sea which can be seen by pasting into Google Maps these coordinates 19.312617,-155.058815. Parking the car allowed us to hike over 4 miles of very rough terrain of cooled pahoehoe lava. It was a very difficult journey.

Hiking to the lava

The trip was so challenging that the bottoms of many shoes were worn away significantly. At the end of the day, Professor Van Kooten commented that his shoes, due to the terrain and the hot surface of cooled lava we traveled over, took two seasons off his tread in one day.

The arduous journey however brought us to flowing lava. The video below shoes how the pahoehoe lava on a shield volcano in Hawaii flows slowly and hot!

The lava itself is a lot like honey. It is thick and tough to stir up. It was so very very hot near the lava. We had to remain cautious at all times to maintain safety as our top priority. If it was too hot, we stepped away.

Almost all of us stuck our walking sticks into the lava to see what it was like. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

Brothers in front of the flowing lava

This stuff is super hot!

Alex giving the lava a test

Adhesive in nature and instant burning on our walking sticks

Like water, it finds the easiest way to travel down the topography elevation

 Brianna and Ann are very excited!

Professor VanHorn enjoying his trip to play in the lava

This lava is seeping to the surface from the large lava tube below that is pouring into the sea a further way down

As normal, the day was filled with rain on and off. Ten minutes of rain followed by twenty minutes of sun. When the rain hit the lava, it created fields and fields of water vapor smoke across this active flow. Check out the picture and the video below!

Rain water instantly turned to vapor on the lava

Brian and Steven check the heat and viscosity of the lava

Blue sky moment before more rain

Professor VanHorn checking out the lava

Jaclyn finds some flowing lava nearer the coast
Closeup of Jaclyn's test. It is instant fire touching a stick to the lava

Incredible capture at the ocean entry. As the lava flows out of the lava tube and various pipes, it pours into the sea, which boils the water and produces water vapor. All the while the ocean is pounding the ocean entry with wave after crashing wave. This image is in the public domain, but please credit Dr. Jason VanHorn if you use this image.
A slightly different angle and shot on the ocean entry

Below is a video capture Professor VanHorn got of the ocean entry.

As the lava flows it also is pushing the field up. Here we see a lava flow pushing up and moving the already cooler basalt on top

Brianna, Jaclyn, Braden, Drew, and Steven enjoy lunch about 20 feet from the flow

Just a few more pokes before we have to leave

Finally, when the lava cools, it forms a hardened surface. But the surface expands and begins to pop and flake off its first layer. Check out this video that shows the popping of the surface from the initial cooling. It was really extraordinary to witness!

Tyler W. taking a moment to survey the newly created coastline from the lava field

Time to go back on another rigorous 2 miles

The spoils of victory! Grant, Chad, Brian, Eric, Alex, Tyler, and Micah enjoy some island ICE CREAM!

To end our day before dinner, we enjoyed the nearby black sand beach. Some also hiked to find an elusive warm water ocean pool.
Near to the black sand beach was an outdoor beach club where a few students enjoyed some food. After this, the rest of us had some dinner in town and then began to reflect on a most extraordinary day! Eric gave a devotional in the evening and Grant shared with us about the Ironman competition

Miles hiked today: 10.0
Miles hiked in Hawaii: 23.0
Number of miles on the car: 368
Number of U-Turns so far: 13


  1. We've enjoyed looking at the pictures and videos. Our 9 year old son told us this morning that he would like to go to Hawaii and play in the lava with you. We had to explain that you didn't live there you were only there with some of your students! What an incredible experience!

    1. Thanks so much Langs! In 9 years, if your son comes to Calvin, I might just be able to take him to play in the lava! Hope you are well!