Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Walking Through a Lava Tube

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

The destructive path of a lava flow on the island of Hawaii has been front page news of late.  Much of the flow is inside a tube, but what exactly does that mean?  The short, but thrilling hike through the Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, gives one a good understanding of this geological formation.

Large rivers of lava form a channel and the current is stronger and hotter in the middle.  Therefore, the sides cool and thicken before the center does.  Eventually a crust is formed which insulates the interior flow.  Once the eruption stops and the lava drains, it leaves a tube.  Bats, spiders and insects had to be cleared from this one before tourists were allowed in.  It's well-lit and eerily beautiful. Walking through a forest of ferns on the way back to your car is an extra special bonus!

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