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Panoramic of Pu'u Wa'awa'a Cinder Cone and surround pasture land
Panoramic of Pu'u Wa'awa'a Cinder Cone and surround pasture land

Oftentimes overlooked, Hawaii Big Island’s Hualālai Volcanic Mountain can be found living in the western shadows of its dominant neighbors Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa. Keep in mind; Hualālai is easy to miss, with a summit that is typically hidden most days – the exception, early morning hours – by cloud cover and volcanic smog.

Standing at a mere 8,271 feet (2,521 m) above sea level – from ground level, it is easy to mistake Hualālai as a tacked on extension, to the world’s largest volcano – Mauna Loa’s mammoth mountain mass – which at 13,678 feet (4,169 m), and 2,035 square miles (5,271 km2
), covers slightly more than half the Island!

Hualalai has been rising above sea level 300,000 years ago. Hualālai last erupted in 1800–1801. This eruption produced very fluid alkalic basalt lava flows that entered the ocean off the western tip of Hawaiʻi island.A earthquake swarm shook the volcano in 1929 which cause a total of 100,000 worth of damage.

What strangely resembles a gigantic Jello-mold, is in fact a 1,220-foot (372 m), 1-mile (1.6 km) in diameter, 100,000-year-old cinder cone, which is comprised of Hualālai’s oldest remaining exposed rock.
Satellite image of Hualalai Volcanic Mountain with Pu'u Wa'awa'a
Satellite image of Hualalai Volcanic Mountain with Pu'u Wa'awa'a

Lava attributed to a shield-stage Hualālai has been found just offshore of the volcano's northwest rift zone. Tholeiitic basalt, indicative of the
submarine subphase of the volcano's construction, has been found in wells driven into the volcano at a depth of 75 ft (23 m). These lavas persisted until an estimated 130,000 years ago.[10] Hualālai entered the post-shield stage, the stage it is presently in, about 100,000 years ago. Pumice and trachyte eruptions at Puʻu Waʻawaʻa may be a sign of this change.

One earthquake was reported felt during the week ending on July 19, 2001. A resident of Leilani Estates subdivision felt an earthquake at 6:03 p.m. on the evening of July 17. The magnitude-2.9 earthquake was located 2.5 km (1.5 mi) east of Pu`ulena crater at a depth of 1.83 km (1.1 mi).
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The 1800 and 1801 eruptions produced the Ka`upulehu and Hu`ehu`e flows, which are noted for their shiny black surface and abundant olivine nodules. The Ka`upulehu flow is located between Kona Village Resort and Kiholo Bay. The Hu`ehu`e flow is beneath Kona International Airport.

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These six volcanoes are responsible for a whole bunch of impressive
world records such as: “most active”, “most massive” and “tallest sea mountain”. Three volcanoes are still active: Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Kilauea is currently erupting while the other two could erupt at any time. Mauna Kea is dormant, Kohala inactive and Mahukona has probably never breached the oceans surface.

Hualalai began to grow about 800,000 years ago. Hualalai is a shield volcano. In 1929,there was an earthquake under the Hualalai volcano. The Kaupulehu lava
flow began at an altitude of between 1650-1800 m and reached the sea, destroying villages along the shore. The lava flow was 16 km long. Hualālai is still considered active, and is expected to erupt again some time within the next century. The relative unpreparedness of the residents in the area caused by the lull in activity would worsen the consequences of such an event.

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