Hawaiian Volcanoes

There are five mainland volcanoes on the small island of Hawaii: Kohala, Mauna kea, Mauna loa, Hualaliai, and Kilauea. They’re all shield volcanoes. In other words, they look like wide, low angled domes.  Did you know  that Hawaii is basically  just one huge volcanic rock? “volcano” comes from the Roman god Vulcan, the god of fire.

Mauna loa is the biggest. In fact, it’s the biggest on earth! It has erupted continuously 33 times since 1843, and scientists are convinced it will erupt again. In the native Hawaiian language, “Mauna loa” means “long mountain”. No wonder! It reaches 120km from tip to tip.

Kohala & Mauna kea

Kohala is the oldest and smallest volcano. It probably came above sea level about 500,000 years ago. It’s basically a peninsula on the northeast corner of Hawaii off Mauna kea. Although it may look small, underwater, it’s over 50 km long. There is no actual translation in Hawaiian for “Kohala”. It’s most recent eruption (although not very recent at all) is about 120,000 years ago.

Then comes Mauna kea. Although Mauna loa is bigger, Mauna kea is taller, 35m taller. “Mauna kea” means “white mountain” because of it’s glaciers (although glaciers and Hawaii don’t mix). But yes, they do have glaciers in Hawaii.

Hualaliai & Kilauea

Hualaliai is Hawaii’s third active volcano and second smallest. It’s most recent eruption dates back to 1801. It’s expected to erupt again in the next 100 years. It grew above sea level around 300,000 years ago.

Finally, Kilauea. It made a sound equal to a sonic boom when it blew itself apart and literally collapsed.  It’s skyline point is called P’u’u’O’o (I think that’s how you pronounce it). “Kilauea” means “spewing”. Probably spewing lava.

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