Stories of lava flows and volcanic landscapes from Ka‘u to Kona featured in public talks


The lava flows and volcanic landscapes along Queen Kaahumanu and Mamalahoa highways, from Ka‘u to Kona, will be the focus of an upcoming public talks offered by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists.

HVO Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua and geologist Janet Babb will recount the volcanic history, stories, and impacts of lava flows flanking Highways 11 and 190 in a virtual road trip that was originally presented as a Volcano Awareness Month talk in January.

Encore presentations of their talk will be offered at 6 p.m. on March 11 at the Old Kona Airport Parks’s Makaeo Events Pavilion in Kailua-Kona and 6 p.m. on April 2 at the Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle, in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates in Ka‘u.

The virtual road trip presented by Kauahikaua and Babb includes photographs and sketches of Mauna Loa and Hualalai lava flows erupted in the 1800s and 1900s, film clips from the Mauna Loa 1950 eruption, and images of how the flows and volcanic landscape appear today.

“The rugged and seemingly barren lava flows of Ka‘u and Kona are often described as a volcanic wasteland, but these flows tell an important part of the history of each area,” said Kauahikaua. “As a record of the past, they should be respected for the messages they provide us today.”

Kauahikaua and Babb are offering these talks to remind people that Mauna Loa and Hualalai are active volcanoes that will erupt again.

“Because past volcanic activity is an indication of what could happen in the future, it’s important for Hawaii residents to be aware of the potential hazards of these volcanoes,” Kauahikaua added.

According to Babb, she and Kauahikaua will share in a fun and interesting way, stories of the volcanic landscape that Hawaii residents and visitors see each time they drive between Ka‘u and North Kona.

“Through our virtual road trip, you’ll discover the origin of the lava flows — when and where they were erupted — and their impacts on the island.”

For more information about these talks, visit the HVO website at hvo.wr.usgs.gov, email askHVO@usgs.gov, or call 967-8844.

West Hawaii Today covered one of the original talks held in January. Click here to read the article.