Experience the Heartbeat of a Volcanic Landscape
Think about this experience…..molten rock being squeezed out of the center of the earth at over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The vast pressure that is exerted until it finds the weakest spot in the Earth’s crust and then comes flowing out! And you are in the perfect place to see this history in the making. What small percentage of the Planet’s population has been able to witness these primordial forces shape the creation of our Planet? Yet here you are watching and realizing this is how our Planet was created.
This has gone on for millions of years and no matter how much we can change our environment, we can only stand in awe at the massive power of a volcanic eruption.
Volcanoes, and the molten lava they produce, are also monumental land creators – they have built the Hawaiian Island chain. Mauna Loa and Kīlauea, two of the Panet’s most active volcanoes, are still adding to the island of Hawaii. The most massive mountain on Earth, Mauna Loa, occupies an estimated volume of 20,000 cubic miles. The current peak of Mauna Loa rises about over 10 miles above the depressed ocean floor. This is more than 5 miles higher than Mount Everest. Continental volcanoes have more gaseous eruptions than Mauna Loa and Kīlauea. Whereas the Hawaiian volcanoes produce fiery fountains and rivers of molten lava. These layered flows create a barren volcanic landscape that is the basis of a fountain for life. Several hundred species of animals and plants have found their way across the vast ocean on water, wind, and the wings of birds. Out of all these hundreds that made it to the shores, only a few adapted, survived, and flourished during this time of “island building”. When humans arrived – first Polynesians, then Europeans, and the animals and plants that arrived with them, they radically changed this evolutionary showcase, this Planetary natural experiment.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park now displays the results of over 70 million years of volcanic action, evolution,and migration in the Hawaiian Island-Emperor Seamount chain-processes that would thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct human culture. Created to preserve the natural setting of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the park is also a refuge for the island’s native plants and animals and a link to its human past. Park managers and scientists work to protect the resources and promote understanding and appreciation of the park visitors. Research by scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory makes Kīlauea one of the best understood volcanoes in the world, shedding light on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and the beginnings of planet Earth. Each eruption is a reminder of the power of natural processes to change the air we breath, the ground we walk on, and the sea that surrounds this volcanic island we call home.