Kilauea is the most active volcano
in the Hawaiian Islands. Located along the southern shore of
the Big Island, also known as 'Hawaii', the volcano is
presently somewhere between 300,000 to 600,000 years old.
Hawaiian volcanoes, Kilauea was created as the Pacific
tectonic plate moved over
in the Earth's underlying mantle.
is joined by five other volcanoes that make up the island of
Hawaii. Kohala is the oldest volcano on the island.
It is more than a million years old. Mauna Kea
is the tallest mountain of the five. Now dormant, it
last erupted about 4,500 years ago. Hualalai is
the middle volcano. Located on the western side of the
island, it last erupted in the 1700s.
is the second youngest and second-most active volcano on the
Big Island. It is also the largest volcano on the face of
the earth. Mauna Loa remains an extremely dangerous
volcano which last erupted in 1984.
There is also a
baby volcano. Loihi is an emerging volcano that
is still under water off the southern coast of Hawaii. It
will appear above water 10,000-50,000 years from now.
Because it lacks
topographic prominence and its activities historically
coincided with those of Mauna Loa, Kilauea was
once thought to be a satellite of its much larger neighbor
which looms in the distance about 20 miles away.
however, has made it clear that Kilauea is
not only a separate volcano, it is also the current eruptive
center of the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain.
Kilauea is only a lad compared to Mauna Loa, its
massive big brother which looms in the distance. At
4,000 feet tall, Kilauea isn't even tall enough to be
considered a mountain yet. But don't feel sorry for
Kilauea. Someday it will become the most dangerous
volcano on earth and likely exceed the height of Mauna Loa.
Let's just hope that day doesn't come anytime soon.
a large summit caldera with a two mile diameter.
The walls rise
400 feet high.
It is unknown if
the caldera was always there or if it is a relatively recent
feature. It is possible that it has come and gone
throughout Kilauea's eruptive history.
is estimated to have begun about 500 years ago. Its
present form was finalized by a particularly powerful
eruption in 1790.
A major feature
within the caldera is Halemaumau Crater, a large pit
crater and one of Kilauea's most historically active
eruption centers. This crater is where the smoke is
emanating from in the picture.
The crater is
approximately 3,000 feet in diameter and 279 ft deep.
The floor of the
Halemaumau Crater is now mostly covered by flows from its
most recent eruption in 1974.
The most recent
major eruption at Kilauea has also proved by far the
longest-lived. The current Kilauea eruption began on
January 3, 1983, along the eastern rift zone. The vent
produced vigorous lava fountains that quickly built up into
PuuOo cone, sending lava flows down the volcano's slope.
activity shifted down the rift to a new vent, named
Kupaianaha, where it took on a more effusive character.
Kupaianaha built up a low, broad volcanic shield, and lava
tubes fed flows extending 11 to 12 km (7 to 7 mi) to the
In 1992, the
eruption moved back to PuuOo, but continued in the same
manner, covering nearly all of the 1983–86 lava flows and
large areas of coastline.
As of January
2011, the eruption has produced 1 cubic mile of lava,
covered 48 square miles of land, added 509 acres of land,
destroyed 213 structures, and resurfaced 9 miles of highway
with lava as thick as 115 feet.
When people think of a volcano, a place like Mt Etna or Mt
Vesuvius will surely come to mind. We all visualize
volcanic eruptions as a violent explosions that eject red
hot lava high into the air,
Kilauea is much
more tame than that. Its lava flows like a river.
The eruptions at Kilauea are a slow oozing of
red-hot lava mixed with dried black lava rock that carves
out a path to the sea. Fortunately, it is pretty easy
to avoid the danger and still get close enough to get a good
According to the National Park Service, “Activity on Kilauea
continues as magma vigorously pushes to the surface, forming
a river of lava.” This sight can be seen firsthand during
numerous tours available each day at the park.
The Crater Rim Drive is a one- to three-hour tour taken by
car with intermittent short walks throughout. Stretching 11
miles, you'll travel a well-marked route with scenic stops
along the way. If you have more time, you may want to take
the four- to five-hour tour and explore the coastal areas.
This 20-mile route descends 3,700 feet.
For those who
prefer to walk, an abundance of trails lend themselves to
day hikes and wilderness hikes where visitors can often view
active lava flows.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have a unique opportunity to
see the living earth in action. The true
character of the park is best discovered on foot. With over
150 miles of trails in the park, exploration by walking and
hiking can be a fascinating and enjoyable experience.
Park trails range in difficulty from easy walks (Bird Park/Kipukapuaulu
or Thurston Lava Tube/Nahuku) to longer hikes such as
Kilauea Iki or Mauna Iki. Other trails provide access
through wilderness areas and are suitable only for those who
are in top physical condition and properly outfitted with
winter gear. Most trails are well maintained and easy to
follow. Wilderness trails are roughly marked by ahu (cairns
- piles of rock). Devastation and Waldron Ledge trails are
paved and accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Cruise ships sailing between the Hawaiian Islands make a
point to conduct night tours, so passengers can get
front-row seats for the spectacular show. The brilliant
colors of orange, red and yellow churn as billowing smoke
rises each time lava pours into the ocean below. Much
more visible at night, Kilauea is quite a spectacle and
always a highlight of any cruise.
Whether you choose to tour Hawaii's most active volcano by
land, sea or both, you're sure to find it a thrilling
experience you won't soon forget. Considering most people
won't have the opportunity to visit a live volcano, you can
consider yourself an honored guest of the Islands who has
witnessed a positively astonishing act of nature.
Lava Light Galleries
Photographers CJ Kale and Nick Selway waited more than five
years to capture a never-before seen-view of an active
volcano. When the conditions were finally right, the two
friends risked their lives to get it.
What were they seeking? An image of lava hitting the water
shown through a breaking wave.
To do this they spent seven days camped out near the edge of
volcanoes on the island of Hawaii. Then, wearing only surf
shorts and fins, plunged into near-scalding water.
The maneuver is extremely dangerous, but CJ and Nick, who
together own Lava
Light Galleries in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, did not want
to pass up this rare opportunity.
"To do this again, we would need the
lava to cross another beach," CJ tells us. "Unfortunately,
the next closest beach is over seven miles from the lava's
normal path. Even worse is, if it did take a path toward the
beach, there are about 30 homes in its way, so I pray that
we never get the chance again."
Two photographers risked their
lives to become the first people to capture the explosive
moment fiery lava crashes into the sea.
Nick Selway, 28, and CJ Kale, 35, braved baking hot 110F
waters to capture these images, as they floated just feet
from scalding heat and floating lava bombs.
The pair, who chase the lava as it flows from Kilauea
through Kalapana, Hawaii, spend their days camped on the
edge of active volcanoes to capture the incredible images.
Contrast: The bright light of the
lava, accentuated by a long exposure, sets of the grey of
the water in the Hawaiian dusk
Terrifying: Mr Selway and Mr Kale
dress only in swimming shorts and flippers as they float in
rough seas as hot as 110F to capture the incredible
Steaming close: Here one of the
daredevils is braving
the surf warmed by the lava to
snap the amazing images
The cameraman is just a few dozen
feet from fiery lava pouring out of the rock.
The two men use protective casings for
their cameras, known as surf housings, to keep them
operating in the extreme
Using a simple protective casing around their cameras, and
wearing just swimming shorts and flippers, they bob up and
down with the water
as the surf washes over their heads.
But their remarkable day jobs don't come without enormous
Last year Mr Kale tumbled 20ft into a lava-tube with 40lb of
camera gear on his back, shattering his ankle.
Others have died in the area due to
land falling away.
Beautiful, but dangerous: Mr Selway
and Mr Kale don't recommend that others attempt to recreate
these incredible shots
Beauty: Hawaii is an collection of
volcanic islands located over a geological 'hot spot' in the
Artistic: Like a Salvador Dali
painting, thick gloopy lava folds over a rock, left, as the
molten rock cascades into the sea, right - causing
steam to rise from the water
Magma: Mr Kale and Mr Selway spend
days camped out on the edge of volcanoes to capture their
shots at just the right moment
Brave: A photographer stands with his camera just a few
hundreds yards from an explosion as a river of lava boils
down the mountainside
Inches from death: People die every
year in Hawaii trying to get a close-up view of the island
chain's spectacular volcanoes
The rising steam from the eruptions
creates a rainbow across the evening sky.
Mr Kale and Mr Selway, who is from
Washington, are the only two people to bring such a
magnificent and unique view of the volcano to the world.
Mr Kale added: 'It's such an
extraordinary experience and we feel lucky to be able to
turn our photography into what we do for a living.
'The views are really something
special and completely unique every time.
'I wouldn't rather be doing anything else.'
Mr Kale, from Hawaii, said: 'We shoot
pictures all over the world but our volcano images are shot
here on the island because it's so spectacular.
'Our days are spent on the edge of volcanoes, either leaving
at midnight to get out before the light of the rising sun or
hiking in the day and then staying overnight.
'We use surf-housing which is a protective case so we can
venture into the water with our cameras, as the heat and
water would be too much for them.
'It's 110F where we were and just 20ft in front of us it was
'We have a lot of fun but it's extremely dangerous and I
wouldn't recommend anyone trying it for themselves.
'I fell into a lava-tube shattering my ankle. After climbing
out we had to lash my foot to my leg with a tripod, camera
strap and belt and hike over the rugged terrain for two
'Not many people die each year but when they do it's
normally in large groups when large chunks of land drop into
Life on Mars?
river of molten rock flows past a majestic landscape that
conjures up images of perhaps some faraway planet.
Too close: A flip-flop catches fire as
it is exposed to the lava - a warning to the photographers
of the risks of doing this kind of work
Fountain of flames: A volley of lava
explodes into the air with clouds of menacing smoke rising
Molten river: Thousands of gallons of
red lava cascade down a mountain slope in a scene of
Bleak: Smoke rises off rivers of fiery
lava as it crashes into the sea.
Hawaii is an collection of volcanic islands located over a
geological 'hot spot' in the Central Pacific.
There are eight major islands and six
of these are open to tourism.
Hawaii - or the 'Big Island' - is the largest of the islands
and home to Mauna Kea and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
which includes two of the largest and most active volcanoes
on Earth - Mauna Loa and Kilauea.
There are currently three active volcanoes in Hawaii.
Maunaloa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been erupting
continuously since 1983.
Loihi is located underwater off the southern coast of
Hawaii's Big Island. It has
been erupting out of sight since
1996. It could break through
the surface anywhere from 10,000 to
250,000 years from to begin adding a ninth distinct
island to the Hawaiian chain.