Hawaii Volcanoes National Park World Heritage Site
Parc national des volcans d'Hawaï, United States
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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, established in 1916, is a United States National Park located in the U.S. State of Hawaiʻi on the island of Hawaiʻi. It displays the results of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanism, migration, and evolution—processes that thrust a bare land from the sea and clothed it with complex and unique ecosystems and a distinct Ancient Hawaiian culture. Kīlauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the most massive, offer scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors' views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. In recognition of its outstanding natural values, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The park includes 505.36 square miles (1,308.9 km2) of land. Over half of the park is designated the Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness area and provides unusual hiking and camping opportunities. The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the Earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet (4,169 m). Climates range from lush tropical rain forests, to the arid and barren Kaʻū Desert. Active eruptive sites include the main caldera of Kīlauea and a more active but remote vent called Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The main entrance to the park is from the Hawaii Belt Road. The Chain of Craters Road, as the name implies, leads past several craters from historic eruptions to the coast. It used to continue to another entrance to the park near the town of Kalapana, but that portion is now covered by a lava flow.
Kīlauea and its Halemaʻumaʻu caldera were traditionally considered the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pele, and Hawaiians visited the crater to offer gifts to the goddess. In 1790, a party of warriors (along with women and children who were in the area) were caught in an unusually violent eruption. Many were killed and others left footprints in the lava that can still be seen today.
The first western visitors to the site, English missionary William Ellis and American Asa Thurston, went to Kīlauea in 1823. Ellis wrote of his reaction to the first sight of the erupting volcano:
A spectacle, sublime and even appalling, presented itself before us. 'We stopped and trembled.' Astonishment and awe for some moments rendered us mute, and, like statues, we stood fixed to the spot, with our eyes riveted on the abyss below.
The volcano became a tourist attraction in the 1840s, and local businessmen such as Benjamin Pitman and George Lycurgus ran a series of hotels at the rim.Lorrin A. Thurston, the American missionary Thurston's grandson, was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the park after investing in the hotel from 1891 to 1904. William R. Castle first proposed the idea in 1903. Thurston, who then owned the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper, printed editorials in favor of the park idea. In 1907, the territory of Hawaii paid for fifty members of Congress and their wives to visit Haleakala and Kīlauea. It included a dinner cooked over lava steam vents. In 1908 Thurston entertained Secretary of the Interior James Rudolph Garfield, and in 1909 another congressional delegation. Governor Walter F. Frear proposed a draft bill in 1911 to create "Kilauea National Park" for $50,000. Thurston and local landowner William Herbert Shipman proposed boundaries, but ran into some opposition from ranchers. Thurston printed endorsements from John Muir, Henry Cabot Lodge, and former President Theodore Roosevelt. After several attempts, the legislation introduced by delegate Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana'ole finally passed to create the park. House Resolution 9525 was signed by Woodrow Wilson on August 1, 1916. It was the 11th National Park in the United States, and the first in a Territory. Within a few weeks, the National Park Service Organic Act would create the National Park Service to run the system. Originally called "Hawaii National Park", it was split from the Haleakalā National Park on September 22, 1960.
An easily accessible lava tube was named for the Thurston family. An undeveloped stretch of the Thurston Lava Tube extends an additional 1,100 ft (340 m) beyond the developed area and dead-ends into the hillside. Though it is blocked by a chain link fence to keep unwary visitors from entering, the easily traversed stretch is in fact open to the public and accessible through a gate in the fence. Visitors to the undeveloped stretch should exercise caution on the brief climb down to the tube floor due to the rough terrain. Once past the entrance, the rest of the walk is on even ground.
In 2004, an additional 115,788 acres (468.58 km2) of Kahuku Ranch were added to the park, making it 56% larger. This was an area west of the town of Waiʻōhinu and east of Ocean View, the largest land acquisition in Hawaii's history. The land was bought for US$21.9 million from the Samuel Mills Damon Estate, with financing from the Nature Conservancy.
Several of the National Register of Historic Places listings on the island of Hawaii are located within the park:
The main Visitor Center, located just within the park entrance at 19°25′46″N 155°15′25.5″W / 19.42944°N 155.257083°W / 19.42944; -155.257083, includes displays and information about the features of the park. The nearby Volcano Art Center houses historical displays and an art gallery. The Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located a few miles west on Crater Rim Drive, features more exhibits and a close view of the Kīlauea's active vent Halemaʻumaʻu. The museum is named after scientist Thomas Jaggar, who was the first director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which adjoins the museum. The observatory itself is operated by the U.S. Geological Survey and is not open to the public. Bookstores are located in the main visitor's center and the Jaggar Museum. The Kilauea Military Camp provides accommodations for U.S. military personnel.
As of 2008[update] the superintendent was Cindy Orlando. Volunteer groups also sponsor events in the park.
On March 19, 2008, there was a small explosion in Halemaʻumaʻu crater, the first explosive event since 1924 and the first eruption in the Kīlauea caldera since September 1982. Debris from the explosion was scattered over an area of 74 acres (300,000 m2). A small amount of ash was also reported at a nearby community. The explosion covered part of Crater Rim Drive and damaged Halemaʻumaʻu overlook. The explosion did not release any lava, which suggests to scientists that it was driven by hydrothermal or gas sources.
This explosion event followed the opening of a major sulfur dioxide gas vent, greatly increasing levels emitted from the Halemaʻumaʻu crater. The dangerous increase of sulfur dioxide gas has prompted closures of Crater Rim Drive between the Jaggar Museum south/southeast to Chain of Craters Road, Crater Rim Trail from Kīlauea Military Camp south/southeast to Chain of Craters Road, and all trails leading to Halemaʻumaʻu crater, including those from Byron Ledge, ʻIliahi (Sandalwood) Trail, and Kaʻū Desert Trail.
Old lava flows covering roads
Slow moving lava can be approached quite closely
Sea arch of lava, caused by erosive wave action, near the flowing lava site.
Pāhoehoe Lava is entering Pacific
La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site
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