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Hawaii Volcanoes N.P. - Sulphur Banks

A cache by Kateriana and Lena Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 6/24/2012
1.5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

A very unique view, this easy hike offers some seldom seen scenery!

Hawaiæi Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day year-round.


  • Kilauea Visitor Center is open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Jaggar Museum is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Jaggar Museum Bookstore is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • $15.00 per vehicle - good for 7 days
  • $5.00 per individual - good for 7 days
  • $25.00 Hawai`i Tri-park Annual Pass - Allows access for 1 full year from date of first use at Hawai`i Volcanoes, Haleakala, and Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Parks.
Help to Plan Your Visit!

Redesigned in 2005, the area is now wheelchair accessible along a paved path and boardwalk. At Sulphur Banks (Ha`akulamanu), volcanic gases seep out of the ground along with groundwater steam. These gases are rich in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide -- the gas that smells like rotten eggs. Some sulfur gases deposit pure crystals at Sulphur Banks. Other sulfur gases form sulfuric acid which breaks down the lava to clay. This clay is stained red and brown with iron oxide. 1

Fumes from the volcano, specifically sulphur dioxide, can be quite harmful and caution should be taken. Visitors with heart or respiratory problems, infants, young children and pregnant women are especially at risk and should consider avoiding this earthcache. 1

As you approach the Sulphur Banks you will notice that the ground you are walking on, or are near to, has bright yellow deposits. These are pure sulfur crystals. 2

The bright, lemon yellow, non-metallic element, sulfur, is a very soft mineral. Sulfur was determined to be an element in 1809. Sulfur has a very low thermal conductivity meaning it cannot transfer heat very well. The touch of a hand will cause a sulfur crystal to crack because the crystal's surface warms faster than the interior. Sulfur melts at 108 degrees Celsius, and burns easily with a blue flame. 4

You might notice that near the Sulphur Banks is a pile of rocks. If you look carefully at the pile you will notice that the base is not natural, but man-made. Looking into the pile of rocks you may see very large sulfur crystals (note, it is against park regulations to remove rocks or crystals). This pile of rocks marks the first attempt at drilling a geothermal borehole into the volcano. The borehole was attempted in 1925 but was abandoned due to continual destruction of the drill tip. The pile of rocks is all that remains to mark this early attempt at tapping the power of the volcano for the generation of electricity (note, Hawai'i does have geothermal plants running in Puna district - providing power to the island). 2

On Earth, elemental sulfur can be found near hot springs and volcanic regions in many parts of the world, especially along the Pacific Ring of Fire; such volcanic deposits are currently mined in Indonesia, Chile, and Japan. Such deposits are polycrystalline, with the largest documented single crystal measuring 22+16+11 cm. Historically, Sicily was a large source of sulfur in the Industrial Revolution. Significant deposits of elemental sulfur, believed to have been (and are still being) synthesised by anaerobic bacteria on sulfate minerals like gypsum, exist in salt domes along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and in evaporites in eastern Europe and western Asia. Native sulfur may be produced by geological processes alone. Fossil-based sulfur deposits from salt domes have until recently been the basis for commercial production in the United States, Poland, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine. Such sources are now of secondary commercial importance, and most are no longer worked. 3

In order to log this cache, you need to answer the following questions. Please do not answer in your log notes, but through a message to me through my profile (email must arrive within 24 hours of your log posting or your log will be deleted):

  1. How are the sulphur crystals formed?

  2. What other rock or mineral types are found in this area?

  3. How big in mm is the largest crystal you can see?

  4. OPTIONAL: Submit a picture of steam vents - bonus points if your photo contains members of your party. Photo should be submitted with your cache log!


Official Website: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Photos Courtesy of Instant Hawaii


Gratz to mrslideflute for FTF!!

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Counter Added 6/24/2012



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1áSulphur Banks - National Park Service Web Site

2áInstant Hawaii Web Site

3áWikipedia Web Site

4áScience View Web Site

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