Mauna Kea

Location: 19.820 N, 155.470 W

Elevation: 4.206 m


Mauna Kea, Hawaii's highest volcano, reaches 4205 m, only 35 m above its neighbor, Mauna Loa. In contrast to Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea lacks a summit caldera and is capped by a profusion of cinder cones and pyroclastic deposits. Mauna Kea's rift zones are less pronounced than on neighboring volcanoes, and the eruption of voluminous, late-stage pyroclastic material has buried much of the early basaltic shield volcano, giving the volcano a steeper and more irregular profile. This transition took place about 250,000 to 200,000 years ago, and much of Mauna Kea, whose Hawaiian name means "White Mountain," was constructed during the Pleistocene. Its age and high altitude make it the only Hawaiian volcano with glacial moraines. A road that reaches a cluster of astronomical observatories on the summit also provides access to seasonal tropical skiing. The latest eruptions at Mauna Kea produced a series of cinder cones and lava flows from vents on the northern and southern flanks during the early to mid Holocene.

 Photos: Rolf C osar                                                                     Hawaii, Mai 1990