Orion's Photos: places - Hawaii - 2010 - kiluea_caldera

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On the big island of Hawaii, we visited the Kiluea caldera 2010-07-01. In attendance: Vincent Weibel, Kaitlynn McKirgen, and James Halliday.

This is the "Kiluea Iki" caldera, which erupted in the 1950's, killing a chunk of rainforest with a huge mound of ejecta to the southwest. Today, tourists crawl across the still-warm crater floor, which is dotted with steaming vents and monitoring boreholes. It's striking how slow and messy the whole "lake of lava" process seems to be--solidification seems to have lots of false starts, partial solidifications, drainback events, and other complexities. This leads to chunks of volcanic glass, big non-smooth mounds of slaggy ash that look exactly like coal clinkers, caves of all sizes, and lots of interesting stuff to look at and touch. Especially on the eastern rim of the crater, the lava seemed to be fairly fluid, producing neat freeze-on-top-and-sqeeze-up globs of what look like burnt marshmallows.

The lava is mostly black, tinging to red on weathered pieces. Flowering bushes grow tenaciously between the cracks in the blocks of lava crust, and ferns and algae are plentiful underground inside the steam vents.

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All images taken by Orion Lawlor and placed completely in the public domain.
Converted to HTML on Wed Aug 31 21:48:52 AKDT 2011.
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