On the Island of Hawaiʻi, Kaluapele (the pit of pele or Pele) crowns the summit region of the volcano Kīlauea.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Mauna Matters...

My mind is aswirl with topics, wonderings, musings, and other what-la.  Seems to be a busy time in many places, and keeping track of priorities can be challenging.  Our weathers here in Keaʻau ma uka have been, in keeping with the season, on the warm side for us.  Weʻve had moderate amounts of rain from Erick, and less from Flossie.  Bloomings continue, though lehua are nearly done.  Walking to Keanakākoʻi the other day, even though we saw all the yellow-flowered kūpaoa in full bloom, I was surprised and startled by the wafting of their elusive scent.  Lovely.  Ke māpu nei ke ʻala o ke kūpaoa [the fragrance of the kūpaoa floating in the breeze] from the Pukui and Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary.

I especially admire the twin curved pistils.  This plant is related to ʻāhinahina (silverswords), and sunflowers, and their seeds and waftable fluff develop in days it seems.  See if you can make out the rummaging blurry black bee.  This yellow-flowered one is a shrub, very common along the roadside to KKOI.  A cousin, with glossy dark green leaves and white flowers with a stronger scent is a groundcover on some lava flows.

And too, pūkiawe bloom with their pua liʻiliʻi (tiny flowers), extremely attractive to honeybees.  From a distance, there is but a slight change of color and texture at or near the branch tips, calling us to examine them more closely.

And already (!!!) the ʻōpelu in the yard are just budding for the season.  Readers on the Island of Hawaiʻi might search out this months Ke Ola Magazine, its cover art of ʻōpelu by Melissa Chimera.  Yup...it graces the wall near the top of the stairs (the print, not the magazine).

And, about those Mauna Matters.  At Kīlauea:

Here, we marvel and wonder at the jade-turquoisey blue-green of the pool accumulating on the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu on Sunday, August 11, 2019, pond pics by USGS HVO staff... 

A similar view can be had by visiting the K3 Cam on the HVO website:

here, telephotoed

We see the accumulation of yellow sulphur, and other minerals, on the walls of the lua, precipitating out of volcanic gases.  Those same gases are contributing to the color of the wai welawela (hot water) of the pool.

On August 8, 2019, this photo, as explained in the online HVO caption, illustrates "agitation" of the water (the white dots)... perhaps bubbles from escaping māhu (steam and vapors)???

Another sort of māpu, this time "bubbling, splashing, as water" from the same dictionary, if indeed those spots of agitation are because gases are escaping.  Makes sense to me, but we await confirmation from the good people at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

"For the First Time in Recorded History" has been repeated frequently regarding this phenomenon.  Iʻd be remiss if I didnʻt wonder "Whose recorded history, exactly?"

Does "History" need to be written to be recorded?  Me thinks not.  Hawaiʻi has an extremely rich oral history; traditions of knowledge passed from one generation to the next, by those trained in memorization of chant, stories, and so on.  Perhaps one example is "The Epic Tale of Hiʻiakaikapoliopele" by Hoʻoulumāhiehie & Nogelmeier, published by Awaiaulu.  Basically Books in Hilo has Hawaiian and English copies available.  GoGet!!!  Or visit the Awaiaulu website to order:


Pages 357 to 373 (more or less) of the above, describes the death of Lohiʻau, the lover of Hiʻiaka, a younger sister of Pele.  He was entombed by pele.  Hiʻiaka sought revenge by digging through various strata of Kaluapele, attempting to extinguish the volcanic fires of Pelehonuamea.

Hereʻs a kinda junk-quality sample.  Check out paragraph 4:

So maybe the water we see now isnʻt "cold spring water", but it is water... The Tale is lovely and richly complex, and might make good bedtime reading for both keiki and adults...  This version was published in Ka Naʻi Aupuni newspaper in 1906, and translated by Nogelmeier.

And about those "pools" I mentioned in a previous post...This from a 1917 reprint of "Journal of William Ellis, A Narrative of a Tour Through Hawaii in 1823".  Excellent excellent reading.

The paragraphs describe the area of Kūkamāhuākea (Steaming Flat), between the Kīlauea Visitor Center and Kīlauea Military Camp.  The pools donʻt exist today, and may, according to some geologists, have been waters impounded by lehu (ash) erupted in the violent 1790 explosions.  During 200 ensuing years, rains, droughts, winds, and earthquakes may have all contributed to disrupting ash layers, allowing waters to drain away.

And then, as posted previously too, was the legendary Kawaiakapāoʻo, the water of the goby fish...

Water ponds in the summit region of Kīlauea?  Mauna Matters.

And then between two other Mauna...We visit Puʻu Huluhulu and explore Matters relating to Maunakea.

Iʻve had the ability to be able to lend support and participate up there, sharing info about natural history at Puʻuhuluhulu University.  Hot dry, misty foggy rain, whatever the weathers folks are there.  Lots of folks.  Below from the publicly available Facebook page of Kanaeokana, taken, I believe, last Sunday, August 11, 2019, view toward Hilo.

The grey lava flow (I especially love the evenly textured ropy pāhoehoe in the foreground) erupted from Maunaloa in 1935, and as Pele was making her way to Hilo, vents were bombed in an effort to divert her.

HVO 072519 Volcano Watch: MLOA pele, 1935

The map below, by Trusdell and Lockwood, was previously shared.  The most recent and incredibly detailed geologic mapping of Maunaloa helps us make sense of whatʻs under our feet.  Or tent.  1935 is magenta, Puʻuhuluhulu is the white spot with "1580".

Geologic Map: Northeast flank of Maunaloa

Puʻuhuluhulu is fascinatingly awesomely cool.  Yes, often literally, but also figuratively...  It is a puʻu erupted by Maunakea during the "Laupāhoehoe Volcanic Series", sometime between 14,000 and 65,000 years ago.  But check this out... Maunaloa, during the Puʻukāhilikū flows, an average of 1,800 years ago, or so, apparently had a radial vent (one not on a rift zone) erupt through the middle of Puʻuhuluhulu, and blanket the cinder cone with pele... like a heap of shedded coconut enrobed in dark chocolate...mmmmm Mounds Bar!!!  

Maunaloa lava was peeled off so the Maunakea cinder could be mined and used in road construction, thus the steep slope facing the highway.

Below is the technical description of the Puʻukāhilikū flow...wade through it please, and glean tidbits that may be apropos...

And too, perhaps more familiar, a USGS topographic map of the same region.  Puʻukole, at the top, is one of several on our fair isle.  Another sits just across the Saddle on the lower flank of Maunaloa.  

"Kole" perhaps because slopes resemble the color of a favorite, delicious, reef fish, kole, with its fetching yellow eyes.

The puʻu Kole, the one on Maunakea, is important.  Itʻs one of the last eruptive vents on that mauna, say 4,500 years ago.  Itʻs also a marker of the boundary between the districts of Hilo and Hāmākua.

Puʻuhuluhulu lies in the district of Hilo, in the ahupuaʻa of Humuʻula.  Humuʻula starts offshore, just on the Honokaʻa side of Kaʻawaliʻi, the third horseshoe if one is headed up the coast.  There, Humuʻula is very narrow, then heads ma uka, and turns left, its ma kai (south) boundary cutting off Hilo ahupuaʻa, preventing them from reaching the heights.  The swath of Humuʻula ends on the shoulder of Maunaloa.  Big, broad, sweeping...  Weʻll share more about Mauna ahupuaʻa in the future and why they Matter.

But, as I often do, it seems, I digress...  Letʻs share about Kapu Aloha, a guiding principle of those gathered hither and yon in their passionate efforts to protect the mauna and address a multitude of other issues, of political and social import.  Four or so years ago, hoaloha Manu Meyer penned the following: 

Please read the above carefully and thoughtfully.  The few times Iʻve been to Puʻuhuluhulu in the past weeks, Iʻve been struck by the atmosphere, the energies vibrating at that place.  Calm, thoughtful, clean, organized, and most of all compassionate and kind (Uncle...You need help?  Uncle, hereʻs some food.  Uncle, you doing OK?).  No drinking, no smoking, no anger or swearing, no rubbish strewn about.  What an amazement to witness the evolution of those speaking their minds.  Four years ago, I wasnʻt too happy with what I observed and heard going on at Hale Pōhaku and further ma uka.  This time itʻs different.  People seem centered, determined, and steadfast.  And Iʻm happy that my small-kine activism has been reawakened.

Mauna Matters

With heart-felt aloha to all,


Friday, August 2, 2019

Friday, August 2, 2019. Imagine the Unimaginable

In the mode of

noho i waho...a maliu   be outside...pay attention

or perhaps in this instance, fly outside, pay attention.  Before last summer, who wouldʻve couldʻve imagined what happened?  Collapsing, erupting, lūʻōniu-ing, shaking seeming endlessly.  We knew and understood a bit of what had happened through centuries; various violently explosive eruptions tossing rocks and ashy bits hither and yon, blanketing landscapes, including the site of my home here at Keaʻau ma uka.  

lithic tephra strewn
at her whim unexpected
ma uka to ma kai

Lithic = rock, tephra = volcanic products falling from the sky...bigger and more than we witnessed and experienced during The Three Months.

And today is the Piha Makahiki (One Year) since our last lūʻōniu, rockfalls fortuitously captured on an HVO webcam at 11:55am on August 2, 2018:

Down at Kapoho, in that cone we now know as Waiapele, was cradled a lake known by some as Green Lake.  Traditionally, according to an old map, both the cone and lake were Waiapele.

First, as pele was flowing into Waiapele, 

then, after the filling, both photos by friend Andrew Richard Hara:

And then that old map, Registered Map 366 from the State Survey Office at the Department of Accounting and General Services:

And a screenshot of part of the legend above.  The map was drawn by FS Lyman, after his survey in February 1880.  The Lyman family has had charge of land at Kapoho for generations.

And now, the Unimaginable part...or mayhaps not so much Unimaginable as Unexpected...

As if to compensate for the loss of Waiapele at Kapoho, there has been recently observed a waiapele held in the bosom of Kaluapele, at the very bottom of Halemaʻumaʻu.  May wonders never cease.

We have a tendency, especially in these times of expected hyper-quick response times via social media and email, not to pay too much attention.  We must move on to the next new thing, before we even become accustomed to this new thing.  Observations over centuries, decades even, canʻt possibly account for all eventualities and possibilities.  Imagine...

This new wai is likely a waiwelawela, heated by elemental subterranean fires, its color from various minerals and chemical reactions...

HVO Volcano Watch, August 2, 2019

This, from HVOʻs above noted Volcano Watch column, taken on August 1, 2019:

Look really good at the very bottom, that sort of jade-colored dot.  Thatʻs it.  A friend suggested that it might be meteoric water.  Wait...lest we start rumors of a meteor or asteroid having caused the formation of Halemaʻmaʻu, "meteoric" in this usage is Definition #2, as below:

  1. 1.

    relating to meteors or meteorites.
    "meteoric iron"
  2. 2.
    relating to or denoting water derived from the atmosphere by precipitation or condensation.

And we recall this, posted on Big Island Video News on June 7, 2019, and the paragraph following, posted here previously.  The dark streak appears to originate at the opening of a lava tube exposed just below the caldera floor, view is toward the south:

According to USGS Research Geologist Don Swanson, “What I have dubbed a “black streak” on the caldera wall is flowing water. The water comes from a shallow perched aquifer impounded by dikes in the southwest rift zone. Water flows southward along and in the sand flat below Crater Rim Drive but is stopped by the dikes, which form a dam. For one of several reasons (increasing water pressure, failure of wet sand, small rock fall), water breaks out of the aquifer and pours into the caldera. This phenomenon was first noted on July 4, 2018, and has been observed repeatedly since then. There are at least two different sites for such water flow, both just north of the southwest rift zone. The flowing water has eroded ravines or gullies that resemble cracks. Water flow generally lasts several hours and then stops as water in the aquifer is depleted. But, days to weeks later, water reappears.”

Might these two phenomena be related?  Maybe itʻs that the greenish water in Halemaʻumaʻu trickled down though that smoothish slope of fine talus after exiting a lava tube buried in the wall.  The wai may be "wai hī"...

n. Water oozing as from a precipice or trickling down. Lit., purging water.
Maybe lehu (ash) and fine rock dust have accumulated at the bottom of the lua forming a more or less impenetrable layer, maybe, maybe, maybe...
Tools available today (helicopters, drones, webcams, telescopes, and whatla) allow us to peer where we couldnʻt in past eras.  Who knows if waters were held in Kaluapele before?  We know stories of Kawaiakapāoʻo in or near Kaluapele, in which a legendary goby fish was said to dwell.  We hear of waterfowl having sported in ponds at Kūkamāhuākea, the broad area where steams rise along Crater Rim Drive (known today as Steaming Flat), and there are likely other stories of waters in the summit region of Kīlauea.  
And of course today, we enjoy the waters of Erick as they fall, knowing that rains cause life here in the rain forest, and we are thankful that they are unaccompanied by strong winds.

Raindrops trickle down the glass of the tower at HVO, perhaps eventually wending their way to, and enlarging the pool in Halemaʻumaʻu.   
Iʻve been hither and yon too these past weeks, and Iʻll leave you today with this:

A lei kokio, flowers gathered from a cultivated tree at the home of friends on Maui.  The pua, in my perhaps not-so-humble opinion, are the most spectacular of any of our kamaʻāina species.
With that, prayers for safety and warmth for those at Puʻuhuluhulu...
As always, with aloha,

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019. What are we learning?

The rains of Barbara have passed without incident, and we dry out under partly cloudy skies, in humid airs.  Till next time.  The rain pretty much washed much of remaining lihilihi lehua (stamens) out of trees and onto roofs, gutters, the ground, etc.  With "The Bloom of 2019" nearly over here in the Volcano area, ʻapapane have mostly departed too it seems.  

After all...we clean and tidy up.  A friend was sweeping his garage roof, so as to ensure cleaner catchment water, and remarked on the "dreadlocks" that fell to the ground.  Tangled masses of lihilihi managed to stay in the bottoms of corrugations of the piula (metal roof...or totan in local Japanese).  And how could I resist?

The lehua obsession continues.  Weʻre waiting for seed pods to open so we understand approximate timing from bloom to seed.  Stay tuned for more on that.  

And a not-so-smooth segue to more learning...

flowing lava flows
repeatedly flowing through
centuries now still

And then I realized...not all realize, understand, appreciate realities.  A simple listing of dates does precious little to inform.  And so 1790, 1840, 1955, 1960, 1977, 1983-2018, are numbers without context.  And for that I sincerely apologize.  I get on a roll and blather on, expecting readers to be on the same page or wavelength, and of course that expectation is wrong.

So.  Thisʻll be a little foray.  Sketchy, but still a foray, back in time.  Without an understanding, however basic, of eruptive histories and consequences, of geography, of Pelehonuamea, of society, population patterns, and demography, of planning and land use patterns, and of Politics, how can actions with consequential future consequences be explained and justified?  Iʻd argue that "Because I said so" shouldnʻt, wouldnʻt, couldnʻt fly these days.  And past posts have explained, I trust, some of all this.  But people donʻt often read, much less understand Why? or Why Not?  So briefly, here we go...

First, tools:

The Geologic Map of the Lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, by Richard B. Moore and Frank A. Trusdell, 1991.  DOI, USGS Miscellaneous Investigations Series, Map I-2225. 

Link to download Map I-2225

A USGS Lava Hazard Zone Map, with addenda by the County:

Lava Hazards and Communities

Bishop Museum Memoirs, Volume II, Number 4:

Brigham, 1909, The Volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa

And of course there are many others, but there are too many to list here.  

The Goal and Objective?  To inform and educate, so "we" donʻt keep repeating, ad nauseum, the errors of the past.  I know..."What makes you think youʻll succeed when all of this has been repeatedly ignored in the past?"  Hmmmm...Gotta try?  Iʻm a really stubborn Potagee?  Iʻm optimistic that somewhere, someone will "Get It".  One "Get":  Look at the map above.  Embraced between Highway 132 and Highway 130, is a tight grid of roads in the Purple area.  

Hereʻs an enlargement, with apologies for pixellations:

That tight grid in Purple is, of course, Leilani Estates, in the ahupuaʻa of Keahialaka.  In Lava Hazard Zone 1.  The entire subdivision.  And yes, LHZ1 is The Worst, The Most Hazardous.  Oh.  And the entirety of Highway 132 in "In The Purple" too.

The LHZs were created based on past eruptive behavior.  Dedicated scientists spend years in the field, arduously sampling, analyzing, and mapping flows.  Most of them work for, or are affiliated with, The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in operation since 1912.  Their publications are numerous, published after rigorous review by peers (other scientists), and are an unequalled source of information regarding the geology of Hawaiʻi nei.  They know what theyʻre talking about.  But it seems that no one asks them, or if they do, answers are dismissed.  Or maybe thereʻs a language barrier.  Sometimes science talk doesnʻt translate easily into regular people talk.

OK, Bob.  Donʻt get sidetracked and start ranting.  Unproductive...

Geologist Robin Holcomb summarized:  90% of Kīlauea has been covered by fresh flows during the last 1,100 years.  If we accept recent archeological reports, Hawaiʻi was settled between 1200AD and 1275AD, based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal.  If we allow some slack in those dates as Pat Kirch has suggested, round it back to 1000AD.  So nearly all of Kīlauea has been resurfaced since who are now Native Hawaiians arrived.  As far as I know there were no big settlements on Kīlauea until...the 1960s?  Go read or browse "Land and Power in Hawaii" by Cooper and Daws.  Seems to me that Native Hawaiians were pretty smart in not investing in major infrastructure on Kīlauea.

So about that list of dates...These are mostly screenshots of the Geologic Map of the Island of Hawaii by Wolfe and Morris, 1996, as well as brief summaries from various publications.


In 1790, a notable event was the explosive eruption at the summit of Kīlauea which killed many in the army of Keōua, a rival to Kamehameha.  The map above depicts several branches of 1790 lava on the LERZ.  Two entered the sea SW of Kamaʻili, a big one at MacKenzie, another paralleled the rift but did not enter the ocean.  The sequence of events at the summit and at the LERZ is apparently not understood, though they sure seem similar to 2018, to 1840, to....


According to Titus Coan, a missionary based then in Hilo, Kaluapele had been filling, and for several days before (or longer?) the entire floor was in a state of intense ebullition.  Coan and others state that a rift eruption began on May 30, 1840 when a fissure opened at ʻAlae, a crater that was near what is today Maunaulu.  Fissures also opened on Kānenuiohamo, a small lava shield adjacent to and north of Makaopuhi, marked by the white crescent above.
[a hmmm note:  A definition of "hamo" is "To thrust through or split asunder, as with a spear].
Kānenui doing nui work, paha?  Or not... As I say:  I wasnʻt there and canʻt know or understand why many place names were bestowed.

In short order, a series of fissures opened down rift, the primary ones Pāhoa-side of Lava Tree State Monument, whose "trees" were formed in 1790.  "Terrific floods" of lava came out and entered the sea at Nānāwale, forming the Sand Hills (littoral cones) we know today.  Estimates were of streams a half to two miles wide.  The eruption lasted about a month, and was of very high volume, perhaps similar to what we saw last year.  1840.  Oh.  After that eruption, it was noted that the lava lake in the caldera had dropped 340 feet.  Hmmmm.  Oh too...a village at Nānāwale, presumably near the shore, was inundated and destroyed.


This one lasted 88 days.  Hmmmm.  About 24 (!) vents were spread over nine miles of discontinuous fissures.  6 miles of road were covered, resulting in the complete cutting off of access by land to Kalapana and surrounding communities.  Good thing they knew how to handle...  Twenty one homes were destroyed and 3,900 acres buried.  Sugar cane fields, farms...gone.  Oh.  And a new pit crater formed across from Mr Niiʻs house (USGS Photo, Jerry Eaton):


Kinda small by comparison, at 4 square miles, but nevertheless impactful.  Thirty six days were more than enough to bury the villages of Kapoho and Koaʻe.  About 100 homes, as well as stores, Kapoho School, a Waiwelawela (Warm Springs), Ipoho Lagoon (Higashi Pond) all gone.  Cinder was a notable byproduct.  Itʻs still being mined, and in the process Puʻu Laimana (Lymanʻs hill) the main vent, has been nearly obliterated.


A rift eruption threatened Kalapana, lasted 18 days, but flows did not make it to the ocean (the left-hand flow in white, above), nor did they destroy any homes.  The vent was named Puʻukiaʻi (guardian hill).  

1969 - 1974:

The Maunaulu flows in orange...while no homes were destroyed - the flows were entirely within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park - The Chain of Craters Road was buried, as were numerous important cultural sites:  trails, habitation caves, kauhale (residence complexes), etc.


The Puʻuʻōʻō and Kupaianaha eruptions: 182 structures, mostly homes, in Royal Gardens, Kapaʻahu, Kalapana; Harry K Brown Park, Punaluʻu (Queenʻs Bath), Wahaʻula, Moa, Punaluʻu and other heiau, numerous other important cultural sites, the Kamoamoa Campground, Puʻumanawaleʻa and its petroglyphs, etc etc etc...All gone.  Entombed and "preserved", but gone.

And of course, in 2018...I shanʻt enumerate the losses at Keahialaka, Kapoho, Mālama, Ahalanui, etc etc etc.
And in 2019, how can we possibly contemplate, and worse, actually spend tens of millions of dollars to Recover, reBuild...  Mayhaps IʻM the one who simply doesnʻt get it.

Comments and/or corrections, as always are welcome.

Off to the market...

As always, with aloha,