Chain of Craters From the Air

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Aerial location number 1a: This weird looking landscape was formed by the eruption of Mauna Ulu volcano in 1969. You can just see the fissure running as the line from bottom left to the top center of this image. This fissure is less than 2 meters wide. This air photo shows the effects of very fluid lava going through a rain forest -- the hot lava burns away most of each tree, causing it to fall over. However, at ground level the moisture in the tree causes the lava to cool just enough that it solidifies, making a "tree mold". Take a look at photo number 2 at Stop No. 1 on the ground tour to see what an unusual feature this process creates.

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Aerial location number 1b: In late 1974, a new lava shield stopped forming on the upper East Rift Zone. This is a view of Mauna Ulu, which was erupting between 1969 and 1974. The diameter of this crater is more than 100 meters. Notice the very deep summit crater (it's more than 150 m deep!) with lots of horizontal layers in the far wall that were once individual lava flows, and the lava channels running away from the rim crest. You can see some fine ground photos of Mauna Ulu on the ground segment of this tour.

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Aerial location number 2: The Mauna Ulu flows that erupted between 1969 and 1974 were very fluid, and many of them traveled to the coast over 13 km away. These flows over-ran the old Chain of Craters Road, but now a new road has been constructed along the top of a steep cliff called Holai Pali. In this picture, you can easily tell that some of the flows were the thick a'a type (these ones are dark in this image) and some were the smoother pahoehoe (shown here as very bright due to the Sun reflecting off their surfaces).

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Aerial location number 3: Some of the best views of the eastern side of Kilauea can be gained from flying just off shore. From this perspective, you can see many of the block faults (steps in the side of the volcano where the side of the volcano is slumping into the ocean). Also shown in this view are the locations of the lava flow that erupted along the South West Rift Zone in December 1974, and the summit area of Kilauea, including Halemaumau Crater.

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Aerial location number 4: Just north of where Aerial Location No. 3 is, we come to the part of the coastline that was covered by the Mauna Ulu flows between 1969 and 1974. It is down this part of the pali that the tourist road takes us (this is shown by the series of black arrows). Also indicated here are the summit area of Mauna Ulu and the vantage point (red star) where everybody should stop and enjoy looking out over the coastline (see Ground Photo Stop No. 2 ).

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Aerial location number 5: Between 1983 and 1986, there were many lava flows that entered the Royal Garden Subdivision. Over 100 house were destroyed here by the thick a'a flows (which appear dark here). In this August 1990 photograph, you can still see many of the roads that once served this subdivision. The coastline is towards the bottom of this image, and the vent of Pu'u O'o is just off to the top left of the picture.

You have now completed the aerial portion of the Chain of Craters tour. If you would like, you may begin the ground tour at the beginning, or visit a specific stop on the ground tour by returning to the Chain of Craters virtual field trip page.

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Author: Peter Mouginis-Mark

Copyright by P. Mouginis-Mark

Curator: Lori Glaze