BIG ISLAND SIGHTSKilauea - The Active Volcano
There could never be enough said, or information shared about, Kilauea – from it’s historical significance to the ancient Hawaiians, to the scientific significance it lends to today’s geologists and volcanologists. And for the layman traveler and explorer, it offers a gold mine of fascinating experiences. For tourists, it is the second most visited site in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor. So in other words, see it if you can.
The most common mispercerption about the volcano is that you will see flowing lava and spouting fountains, all originating from a central crater. This is not the case, and too complex to explain here. But the Visitors Center and the National Parks website has more information than you will need to appreciate the phenomena that has given birth to the Hawaiian Islands.
The extent of the volcanic activity changes daily, and it is updated on the Volcanoes National Park website. What is happening when you can visit, and the regular weather will influence what you will (or can) see. Kilauea’s main crater, Halema’uma’u has not the center of volcanic activity as this is written (2014). But it started the present round of eruptions in 1959 that are still ongoing, and the longest stretch in recorded history. Presently the main eruption is centered in and around a second newer crater on the rift zone – Pu’u O’o.
And while no flowing lava may be seen above ground, it can be a few feet underground and flowing in vast networks of lava tubes until it, at times, enters the ocean in an explosive battle between two awesome forces. And at times the lava will “break out” on the surface and flow for short or long distance, giving the casual observer an experience offered nowhere else on Earth – the opportunity to stand on newly created land while watching more created just feet away from you.
Since there is so much available info, and so many aspects of the volcano to experience, we will list a few places for you to continue your research and planning.
Until then, here is a good place to start. Hawaii Volcano National Park