Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a United States national parklocated southwest of Hilo in the District of Hawaii. The park has two active volcanoes; Kilauea and Mauna Loa are 25 km apart. While Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano, Mauna Loa is the world’s largest shield volcano.

The park also has many types of flora and fauna. Hawaiian culture connected to the landscape can be experienced in the park. Now let’s look at the top 10 facts about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Native Hawaiians consider Kilauea a sacred place

Traditionally, Kilauea and its Halemaumau crater were considered the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pele. Hawaiians visited the crater to give gifts to the goddess. The goddess is considered the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.

Folk tales say that the goddess Pele was born from the soul of a woman named Haumea. Pele is known as “The man who shaped the sacred land”. She is known for her capriciousness, passion, power, and jealousy. Her domain is said to include all volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The first Europeans arrived in Kilauea in 1823

Reverend William Ellis and American missionary Asa Thurston were the first Europeans to visit the Kilauea summit. They told stories about Kilauea’s activities. Ellis and his ailing wife returned to the family home in London in 1824.

He began writing a detailed report recounting his journey around the island of Hawaii. His publications are the first accounts of descriptions of landscapes by a white man.

US military aircraft drop bombs to divert lava flows on Mauna Loa

On December 27, 1935, a small squadron of Keystone B3 and B4 biplanes flew over the lava threatening Hilo and dropped 20 bombs on it. Mauna Loa has erupted and lava is crawling toward the town of Hilo, home to 16,000 residents.

The bomb was intended to divert the danger by collapsing the rock channels and underground tunnels that the lava was following toward Hilo. The army was commanded by General George S. Patton.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an active volcanic area

The park has two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is monitored by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

On the other hand, Mauna Loa is the largest shield volcano in the world. Mauna Loa most recently erupted in 2020.

 The park is home to endangered species

In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there are 22 endangered vascular plant species that make up 6% of the flora, and 6 of the 15 native bird species are endangered. National Park Service staff are working to recover endangered species.

This includes nene, Hawaiian petrel, hawksbill turtle, and Mauna Loa silverwood. This is because there are many threats to species such as weeds and highly disruptive ungulates.

The park has one native terrestrial mammal

The park has seven ecological zones; coastal, lowland, mid-altitude forests, rain forests, upland forests and forests, sub-alpine and alpine.

The combination of many life zones and the fact that the Hawaiian Islands are isolated has created native species. They do not exist anywhere else on the planet.

Kilauea’s last major eruption was in 2018

In March 2018, Kilauea erupted in two different places. This has never happened before in a decade. Eruptions occurred at the summit at Halema’uma’u and down the eastern rift zone at Pu’u’o’o.

Eruptions occur from May to August with lava overflows covering the southeastern area of ​​the park. More than 700 homes and residential areas were destroyed in Puna district.

The park’s summit area has changed drastically because of earthquakes, ash plumes, and the collapse of the Kilauea crater. Halema’uma Crater has grown from 280 feet deep to 1,600 feet deep while more than doubling in diameter due to eruptions.

Inside the park is the Ka’u desert

Ka’u Desert is a desert located in Ka’u district. It is made up of dried lava residue, volcanic ash, sand and gravel. The desert covers the southwest rift zone of Kilauea volcano.

There is no vegetation in the desert because it receives acid rain. Acid rain occurs due to the mixing of rain with sulfur dioxide released by volcanic vents.

The pH of rainwater is as low as 3.4 thereby inhibiting plant growth. The desert has very permeable tephra soil. Rapid water evaporation also affects plant growth. People visit the desert to hike and have hiked during periods of high volcanic activity.

The park has stargazing spots inside it

Stargazing at Hawaii National Park is breathtaking because there is little to no light pollution from the park’s surroundings. Darkness provides a beautiful atmosphere for stargazing.

From anywhere in the park, where there is no tree cover, anyone can immerse themselves in stargazing.

The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site in 1980 and 1987, respectively.

This is because the park preserves a strong connection between the natural history of the area and native Hawaiian culture. To this day, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is revered and considered a sacred place by Hawaiians.


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