The Progeny of Volcanoes (Science for Everyone)

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The Hiking section lists scads of great hikes in the park. There are also a couple spookier hikes in the Adventures section. Note that strolls of less than 30 minutes are described in the tour of the volcano. Check out the 3-D miniature of the island near the restrooms to get a perspective of the island. Some guided hike notices are sometimes posted at the Visitor Center open 9 a. From there, you might want to walk across the street to Volcano House for your first peek of Kilauea Caldera from their enviable view. Here, rain that has seeped into the ground is heated by Kilauea and issues forth as steam.

Shootout At The K/T Boundary

The amount varies daily depending on the level of rain in the past few days, and it is rarely smelly like Sulphur Banks. In fact, there is usually no smell at all. Make sure you take the trail for 2 to 3 minutes toward the crater rim for a smashing view of the crater, and where additional, more powerful and unobstructed steam vents are present.

From the steam vent parking lot you can follow along the Sulphur Banks Trail. The paved path starts across the street and feet before the lot. It leads 5 to 10 minutes through a pretty forest to a boardwalk at the Sulphur Banks. This colorful but stinky phenomenon is where hydrogen sulphide gas and steam form deposits of sulphur , gypsum and hematite on the ground. This should be avoided by those with a heart condition, respiratory problems, children or anyone eating lunch.

Though you gotta be active or retired military to stay here, multiple visits by us as well as phone calls confirm that visitors are welcome to buy from their relatively cheap credit card-only gas station as well as their general store, restaurant, lounge and bowling alley though they reserve the right to bump you from the latter if a guest wants to bowl.

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Small handmade signs asking for military ID seem at odds with their warm welcome. Rounding the crater, you come to Kilauea Overlook. Look for white-tailed tropic birds soaring on the thermals down in the crater. These structures were built so scientists could observe the erupting volcano up close and personal. This crater-within-a-crater is said to be the home to Madame Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. For most of the 19th century this was a boiling lava lake. Mark Twain and other celebrities of his time visited here and described it as viewing the fiery pits of hell.

When Isabella Bird saw it in , she wrote:. Suddenly, just above, and in front of us, gory drops were tossed in air, and springing forwards we stood on the brink of Halemaumau, which was about 35 feet below us. I think we all screamed, I know we all wept, but we were speechless, for a new glory and terror had been added to the Earth.

It is the most unutterable of wonderful things. The words of common speech are quite useless. It is unimaginable, indescribable, a sight to remember forever, a sight which at once took possession of every faculty of sense and soul, removing one altogether out of the range of ordinary life. There were groanings, rumblings, and detonations, rushings, hissings, and splashings, and the crashing sound of breakers on the coast, but it was the surging of fiery waves upon a fiery shore.

The whole crater has risen and fallen over time—going from 1, feet deep to overflowing its top. It was about 3, feet across for many decades until the lava retreated in , and once the liquid rock got below the water table, explosions of steam rattled the crater—and the whole region. Strong earthquakes happened daily for months.

Today the crater is more than four times its previous size and more than 1, feet deep. It expanded so much it swallowed part of the previous viewing area parking lot.

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Until the road closure, Hawaiians still made offerings here to Pele. It is said that Pele will appear as a beautiful young woman in the mountains and as a very old and ugly woman at the shoreline. The road was so named because it passed numerous craters along the rift zone before veering off to the shore. It was rerouted after Madame Pele repaved 12 miles of the road with lava during the —74 Mauna Ulu flow and now visits fewer craters than it used to.

Mile markers are on alternating sides of the road, and we will refer to some of them. It may be closed during nene nesting or if there is a perceived fire danger. Walk down the path for feet or so, and you are treated to an amazingly expansive view. The Kulanaokuaiki backcountry campgrounds are also on Hilina Pali Road. Just outside the park entrance there are a few sights that are worth checking out, either before or after your park visit. These holes are created when a lava flow encounters a sopping wet tree trunk, which resists bursting into flames just long enough to harden the lava around it.

They look a little like water wells with the texture of the tree bark that go pretty far down into the ground, giving a good sense of how deep the lava flow that created them must have been. No walking required, the tree molds are right at the parking area. A trail goes through a kipuka, an old growth of forest surrounded by newer lava flows. This kipuka features many native trees and plants, but is less visually dazzling than other hikes nearer the crater.

Birds abound in this park—hence its nickname, Bird Park. The entire 1-mile stroll takes only 20—30 minutes plus stopping time. There is a bench partway along the trail, which ascends gently for the first half. If you are feeling adventurous, there is a little-explored cave near to marker No. It opens up substantially once you get inside. At the end of the mile road at 6, feet is the trailhead to Mauna Loa Trail. This is where you start your multi-day trek through the cold and altitude to ascend the summit of Mauna Loa.

Maybe another day.

source Though pleasant, this road is dispensable if you are budgeting your time. Most of these were created during the explosion of plus a few from an earlier explosion in the s. You may read or be told that the footprints are worn away because they were vandalized. The truth is apparently a little more embarrassing.

Naked Science - Volcano Alert

Park sources have told us that park personnel tried to protect the footprints many years ago by placing a glass case over them. Their intentions were good, but when it rained, water condensed on the underside of the cracked glass and dripped onto the prints, wearing them away. Most personnel believe the vandalism explanation to be true to this day. Regardless, if you look around, you can still find better footprints elsewhere when shifting ash dunes permit. This is a good place to stop for a sip of some locally made wines. They have several unusual wines, including a local favorite, Mac Nut Honey Wine.

They also have wines made from fruits—even grapes.

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Hardcore oenophiles might turn up their noses, but less finicky palates might enjoy a snort or two of the exotic. Another objection has been raised on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence. It is a problem which might be largely solved by teams of workers dealing for a number of years with a particularly favourable example. Without knowing about this critique at the time, we picked up the challenge 30 years ago. Our study took place on the island of Daphne Major—a particularly favorable location, although one would not think so judging from its steep topography see the photograph on p.

By virtue of its small size 0.

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We accomplished this by capturing and measuring many finches to determine phenotypic variation, comparing offspring with their parents to determine inheritance, and following their fates across years to detect selection. We found pronounced heritable variation in beak size and body size within populations of the medium ground finch Geospiza fortis and the cactus finch Geospiza scandens.

We also found that when the environment changes, some of the variants in each population survive while others die. This amounts to a vindication of David Lack's views on adaptation. Birds with small beaks and small body size suffered selective mortality in , during a severe drought figure 5.

The larger members of the medium ground finch population survived on a diet of large, hard seeds, which increasingly dominated the food supply as a result of an initial preferential consumption of small seeds. Smaller birds, lacking the mechanical power to crack the large seeds of Tribulus cistoides and Opuntia echios , died at a higher rate than large birds. An evolutionary response to directional natural selection followed in the next generation figure 5 , because beak size variation is highly heritable Keller et al. Natural selection in the opposite direction, with small birds surviving disproportionately, occurred 8 years later.

The abundant rain and high temperatures transformed the vegetation and food supply of the finches, and they bred for 8 months as opposed to the usual 1 or 2 months. Vines and other plants multiplied and spread, smothering the low-growing Tribulus plants and Opuntia cactus bushes. The seed supply became dominated by small seeds, and seeds of Tribulus and Opuntia became scarce.

When the island entered the next drying-out episode during the drought of , the supply of seeds fell, and so did the numbers of finches from high points in the productive years of and Large birds died at the highest rate; hence, the medium ground finches that were small, with relatively pointed beaks, were selectively favored. Thus selection oscillates in direction.