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Hawaii Volcanoes N.P. - U.S. World Heritage Site EarthCache

Hidden : 09/19/2005
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

This site contains a crater overlook, nearby steam vents, a relief model of the Island of Hawaii and many educational exhibits that will help to acquaint you with the main features of this National Park established in 1916 and designated as a U.S. World Heritage Site.

This earthcache is featured on a geocoin

To qualify to log a find on this earthcache you must:

Email us the type of network that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is recognized as a part of by UNESCO. This information is found on one of the plaques located in the grassy area. Submit your email through our profile on the geocaching website when you log the find. Do NOT post answers in your log.

Qualifying email must be sent the same day you log the find (no need to wait for approval after sending the email). Logs that do not meet the email requirement will be deleted without notice.

If caching in a group it is recommended that each cacher meet the email requirement individually or that everyone logs their find at the same time.

Phone app users: If you have access to log your find you have access to send the email the same day as well.

This earthcache is meant to complement two other earthcaches located within the Park (GCQV5G and GCQV5H), all as approved by the National Park Service and the Geological Society of America in conjuntion with www.geocachingcom. Note: as with most National Parks, there is an entrance fee to the Park.

This site should be your first stop in exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park contains many examples of active volcanism, biological diversity (from desert-like areas to lush rain forests) as well as the legacy of Hawaiian culture. You can learn about all of these by visiting the outside and inside exhibits near the waypoint of this earthcache. There is information on park features as well as a relief model of the Island of Hawaii, which will help to orient you to the island's topography. The exhibits inside the nearby Visitor Center (open daily from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) will educate you on the volcanism of the area, including past eruptions and current volcanic activity. A film is shown at regular intervals throughout the day to help introduce visitors to the park and its volcanic eruptions (film shown on the hour every hour starting at 9:00 a.m. and last showing at 4:00 p.m.).

Exhibits inside also focus on the biological diversity of the Park, where over the span of about 70 million years, plants and animals colonized the Hawaiian Island chain at the rate of approximately one every 70,000 years. Interestingly, over 90 percent of Hawaii's native flora and fauna is reported to be endemic (found nowhere else on earth). You will also learn about the people of the Islands. It is purported that Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands migrated to Hawaii more than 1,600 years ago. These voyagers sailed over 2,400 miles of open ocean in large double-hulled canoes navigating by not only the sun and stars, but also by weather and wave patterns. This art and skill of navigation was once dormant, but a new surge in Hawaiian culture has returned this skill to the people. Eventually, contact with Polynesia ceased and it was during the 400 years of isolation that followed that Hawaiian culture evolved into its own. Hawaii was a highly stratified society with a strictly entrenched caste system. Village life was rich and varied, held together by a system of laws. Slowly the ways of traditional Hawaiian life faded with the arrival of Capt. James Cook in 1778 and the introduction of Hawaii to the rest of the world. You can explore all of these aspects of the park through several available movies or talks held at the Visitor Center, by looking over the exhibits, or by participating in a ranger-guided activity.

Across the road is the Volcano House, a rustic lodge whose history dates back to the 1800's. The earliest form of the hotel was built in the mid-1840's, most likely by a Hilo resident named Benjamin Pitman, who built an unattended thatched house for those visitors that applied for a key in advance. However, it was in 1866 when a group of businessmen first built a structure for the purpose of serving as a hotel; this was the first Volcano House. The 1877 Old Volcano House is the oldest surviving building in the Kilauea Volcano area and thus is the oldest hotel structure in Hawaii (Jackson, 1993). The Volcano House has a colorful history, having sheltered kings, queens, and presidents on their way to view Kilauea. A walk through the lobby of the Volcano House to the exit labeled "Crater View" will give you your first view of the Kilauea Caldera. The main depression of Kilauea Caldera measures 1.5 miles by 2 miles wide. Yet, from its outermost faults, the Kilauea Caldera stretches 3.5 miles by 3.5 miles across. In fact, the Kilauea Vistor Center, Jaggar Museum, and the Hawaii Volcano Observatory are inside the caldera! (HVO, 2007, HVNP, 2007). The surface of Kilauea has changed dramatically over the years and has been witnessed many times throughout the mid and late 10th century as having episodes of lava lakes, domes, cones, ramparts, and periods of quiescence; both in the caldera of Kilauea and the crater of Halema'uma'u (Brigham, 1891; HVNP, 2007). A short walk (.4 mile one way) from the waypoint will take you to areas where volcanic gases seep from the ground, depositing sulfur crystals and other minerals on the rocks.

As described in the U.S. World Heritage Sites brochure: "Several of the volcanoes that formed the Hawaiian Islands are still active, providing a place for scientists to study the mysteries of volcanic eruptions and the earth's formation. It is thought that the Hawaiian Islands were created when molten rock pushed through the earth's crust, forming volcanoes. Over millions of years, eruptions built up these volcanoes until their tops emerged from the sea as islands. Measured from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, these volcanoes are among the greatest mountain masses on the earth. Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the active volcanoes in the park on the Big Island of Hawaii, usually give ample warning before they spew forth hot lava (molten rock); their eruptions sometimes add new land area to the island. These volcanoes are evidence of the powerful forces of nature." Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was inscribed in 1987 as a Natural site, under Criteria N (ii).

Steam Vents Native Peoples Cultural Legacy Offering to Pele World Heritage Site
Click on images to enlarge.

For more information:

For advanced scientific information on geology, please visit the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) website at

For specific information on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, please visit their website at

For additional information on Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, please visit their website at

For more information on volcanic activity go to the Volcanoes Directory at


Brigham,William T., 1891, The Great Volcano of Kilauea. The Inferno of the World from Vistas of Hawaii, The Paradise of the Pacific and Inferno of the World, edited by Thurston, Lorrin A.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 2007, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, National Park Service, HNP, HI, 96718

Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory, 2007, Introduction to Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, United States Geological Survey,,accessed 12/31/07

Jackson,Frances O., 1994, The 1877 Old Volcano House, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, An Historical Structure Report, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, National Park Service

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