Waikoloa lava flows viewed from the International Space Station

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Astronaut photograph ISS056-E-5107 was acquired on June 4, 2018, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 1,600 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 56 crew. Photo courtesy of NASA/JSC

Astronaut photograph ISS056-E-5107 was acquired on June 4, 2018, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 1,600 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 56 crew. Photo courtesy of NASA/JSC

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station shot this photograph of historical lava flows in the Waikoloa area on the island of Hawai‘i. The area is underlain by lavas erupted from radial vents on the northwestern side of Mauna Loa volcano.

An eruption in 1859 produced an ‘a‘ā lava flow that destroyed a village south of Waikoloa and entered the ocean. The eruption lasted for about a year and also produced pāhoehoe flows that entered the ocean near Ohiki Bay and Pueo Bay.

The island of Hawai’i is divided into nine hazard risk zones, each based on the proximity to volcanic summits and rift zones, frequency and area of lava coverage, and topography. Zone 1 represents the greatest hazard risk, but Waikoloa stands in a relatively less hazardous zone 3 due to the greater distances from the summit and rift zones of Mauna Loa. Along with volcanic eruptions and lava flows, the region is also affected by earthquakes. The epicenter of the 6.7 magnitude Kiholo Bay earthquake in 2006 was located just 21 kilometers (13 miles) offshore of Puako.

The Waikoloa region is also known for its thriving aquaculture. Located near ‘Anaeho’omalu Bay are the Anchialine Ponds. Native to the state of Hawai‘i, these natural ponds form in inland lava depressions connect to the groundwater table near the shore. They contain brackish water but no visible connection to the ocean. These pools range from small lava cracks to large fishing ponds and are home to multiple species of rare invertebrates, many of which are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Waikoloa area is also known for the Ala Mamalahoa (King’s) Trail, part of the 175-mile long Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail that runs along the coastline of Hawai‘i. The Ala Mahamaloa predates western contact with the island (1778). It was rebuilt and paved with stone in 1840. One of the main attractions of this trail is the ancient petroglyphs, which show the closest thing to a written language that the ancient Hawaiians used.

Lava flow hazard zone map. USGS

Lava flow hazard zone map. USGS


Google map of South Kohala Coast

2 Responses to “Waikoloa lava flows viewed from the International Space Station”

  1. Konstantin says:

    Dead wrong about puako… it is not puako on picture… only waikoloa resort on top by shore…
    And waikoloa village on the bottom

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