Categorized | Environment

Mauna Ulu hike to detail past eruptions (Jan. 8)

Lava falls pour into Alae Crater at 11 p.m. Aug. 5, 1969, supplied by a high lava fountain at Mauna Ulu, 600 m (2,000 feet) away. The falls, more than 100 m (330 ft) high and 300 m (1,000 ft) wide, had nearly filled the crater by the time the fountains stopped at 5:45 a.m. Aug. 6. (Photo courtesy of USGS / Don Swanson)


Take a guided hike to Mauna Ulu, and learn how the dramatic volcanic landscape was created more than 40 years ago from a scientist who watched it happen.

Don Swanson, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, witnessed the first two years of Kilauea Volcano’s 1969–1974 east rift zone eruption.

He will share the experiences he had during the Mauna Ulu eruption and talk about the volcanic features created by it in a 3-mile guided hike Saturday, Jan. 8.

In the early morning hours of May 24, 1969, a 2.5 mile-long series of fissures opened on the upper east rift zone of Kilauea. Molten lava spattered from the fissures, announcing the start of a new eruption that continued for five years, completely filled two pit craters, and formed a new lava shield, Mauna Ulu (Growing Mountain).

The hike is free and open to the public, but park entrance fees apply. Hikers should wear sturdy shoes, bring drinking water and snacks, and be prepared for cool, rainy weather.

Pre-registration is not required. Meet at 9 a.m. sharp at the Mauna Ulu parking area on the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The hike will last about three hours.

A map to this area is available at…

This Mauna Ulu hike is one of many programs offered by HVO in January 2011, which is Hawaii Island’s second annual Volcano Awareness Month.

For more information about this hike and other Volcano Awareness Month events, visit the HVO Web site at or call (808) 967-8844.

The USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit

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