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The hike from the trail head is not difficult until you reach the last 1/2 km. Then it climbs steeply through elephant grass that is sharp and itchy. This par tof the trail may occasionally require use of hands to pull yourself up. Watch for erosion.
The whole of Sulawesi is derived from volcanic action. It is part of the famous Pacific Ring of Fire. There has been quite a bit of discussion on how the different parts of Sulawesi joined together in the past, but it is agreed upon that volcanic action was a major influence on the current land mass.
Sulawesi has 11 active volcanoes, compared with 17 on Java, 10 on Sumatra, and 6 on Halmahera, and numerous old cones, the most beautiful of which is probably Manado Tua in Minahasa. It can be easily seen from Mt. Mahawu. This northern-most tip of Sulawesi is categorized as “Young volcanics” geologically. The Sangihe Arc heads north and is an area of non-active volcanoes. Due to the subduction line a few km away in the ocean, a matching arc on land is where all these active volcanoes reside (The Ecology of Indonesia – Sulawesi). Mahawu volcano has had 4 major eruptions in recorded history – 1789, 1846, 1904, 1958. It also has spewed out hot gasses frequently over the past 50 years with the most recent in the late 1990’s. This only singes the top plants and has not flowed over into the valleys below.
About 7 km across the Tomohon valley, Lokon is much more active. In fact, it has been spewing small clouds up almost daily since January this year. That is one reason there is not an earth cache on that volcano.
The volcanoes in the North Sulawesi area are associated with the subduction zones in central Sulawesi. These regions are often shaken by earthquakes. The epicenters or positions on the earth’s surface where these originated are frequently cited, but less attention is paid to the depth at which the earthquakes originate. For example, the floor of the Sulawesi sea is moving southwards but instead of buckling and piling up, it is forced down at an angle of about 60degrees under the northern peninsula. the enormous forces and friction involved generate both earthquakes and heat, and the zone where these occur is referred to as the Benioff Zone. The heat can be so intense that the rocks of the descending plate melt, and the molten material or magma forces its way upward. In most cases the magma never reaches the surface, hundreds of kilometers above, but cools down in pockets in the earth’s crust. The magma which does reach the surface, however, is ejected in volcanic eruptions as lava or pyroclastic deposits such as ash and larger rock particles (Ecology of Indonesia – Sulawesi).
The only commercial use of Mt. Mahawu in the past has been mining of sulfer and sulfer compounds used for local medicines. That has stopped currently.
The government of Minahasa intends to ease the journey up Mt. Mahawu and make it a tourist destination in the next year or two. They have already broadened the road, and are starting to line it with rock. The beginning of the road up the actual volcano is located at the saddle between Tomohon and Tondano. Coords are: N 01 20.281 E 124 52.121.
To be able to log this cache, I would like you to do a couple of things.
1. What is written with stones inside the crater?
2. How many “lakes” are there at the bottom? Are they the same color? If so, why? If not, why? You will need to make sure you get to the recording station (trail to the right as you reach the rim) to see all of them.
3. What is the elevation of the recording station?
4. How many large “shelves” are there inside the volcano? These would be areas that are gently sloping from the rim toward the center of the volcano in contrast to the sheer drop-off from the rim.
Most of all, please be careful. The trail leads perilously close to sheer drop-offs. There are no railings or protection of any sort. That said, it is a wonderful experience to visit Mahawu. I would suggest you go as early as possible. Even though the elevation helps moderate the tropical heat, the clouds often roll in about noon.
Whfg trg gb gur gbc!
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum