Geological History of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

A volcanic vent and lava flows from various er...

A volcanic vent and lava flows from various eruptions on the flank of Mauna Loa, photographed from a helicopter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park exists as the result of 70 million years or volcanic activity. The Hawaiian Island chain was built by volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa are still actually adding to the land mass, they are two of the most active volcanoes in the world. Mauna Loa has the rather impressive title of being the “most massive mountain on earth” . . . occupying an incredible 10,000 cubic miles. If you measure Mauna Loa from the base on the sea floor to the summit it rises an amazing 30,000 feet, making it around 1,000 feet higher than even Mount Everest. The eruptions from these extremely volatile and active volcanoes are fluid, producing rivers of molten lava in the fiery fountains.

Eventually, after time, these lava flows add layer upon layer producing a pretty barren landscape which serves as a kind of base-layer foundation for life to evolve. Many different species of animals and plants traveled across the Pacific, either by the wind, the water or by flight, some of them survived in this harsh landscape, successfully adapting and eventually prospering in the environment. This was accentuated when the first humans arrived, Polynesians at first, then Europeans, bringing with them even more animals and plants which only added to the diversity and uniqueness of the Hawaiian islands.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was created to preserve the natural setting enjoyed by the volcanoes, as well as a refuge for the native plants and animals of the islands. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has been paramount for the study and subsequent understanding of Kilauea, one of the most understood volcanoes in the world.

Well named, I think “dramatic” describes it pretty well, don’t you?

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