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Halemaʻumaʻu

“Astonishment and awe for some moments rendered us mute, and like statues, we stood fixed to the spot, with our eyes riveted on the abyss below. Immediately before us yawned an immense gulf, in the form of a crescent, about two miles in length, from north-east to south-west, nearly a mile in width, and apparently eight-hundred feet deep.” “Sometimes I have seen what is called Halemaʻumaʻu, or South Lake, enlarged to a circuit of three miles, and raging as if filled with infernal demons”. (Halemaʻumaʻu is lit., fern house.)

According to Hawaiian oral tradition, the Kīlauea caldera formed during an epic battle between Pele, the Hawaiian volcano deity, and her younger sister, Hiʻiakaikapoliopele (Hiʻiaka.) Geologic evidence suggests that the modern caldera of Kīlauea formed shortly before 1500 AD. Repeated small collapses may have affected parts of the caldera floor, possibly as late as 1790. Keonehelelei is the name given by Hawaiians to the explosive eruption of Kilauea in 1790. It is probably so named “the falling sands” because the eruption involved an explosion of hot gas, ash and sand that rained down across the Kaʻū Desert.

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‘And Now I Must Pay’

“Ten minutes to eight. Margaret died instantly. She did not suffer. And now I must pay.” … (So said the note found on the seat of a car at the edge of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at Volcano.) (The next day (June 3, 1932,) an 8.2 earthquake off the coast of Colima and Jalisco in Mexico produced a tidal wave which was recorded strongly at Hilo, Hawaii (little damage and no deaths were recorded.) “The tragedy had its inception when Nunes, a Portuguese, wished to take the young high school student (Enos) in marriage. She declined to consider matrimony.”

“The twenty-year-old youth (Nunes) was educated in American schools and had started a promising business career.” “About a year ago Sylvester met Margaret Enos.” “In the end Sylvester, with his spying, his letters and his jealous protests, became such a nuisance that the girl told him she never wanted to see him again.” “Taking Margaret to the volcano … it is presumed he again made his protestations of love and asked her to marry him. She evidently refused, for evidence indicates he shot her and, clasping her in his arms leaped into the fiery pit.”

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Collapse to Caldera

Kilauea is presently one of the most productive volcanoes on Earth (in terms of how much lava it erupts each year). To the casual observer, Kilauea appears to be part of the larger volcano Mauna Loa, but geological data indicates that it is a separate volcano with its own vent and conduit system

The summit presently has a caldera that is roughly 2.5-miles by 2-miles wide, and walls nearly 400-feet. Another feature, known as Halemaʻumaʻu crater, lies within the main caldera (on the southwestern side.) The Puʻu ʻOʻo eruption started on January 3, 1983, the southern part of the caldera.

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Whose Footprints Are These?

Geologic evidence suggests that the modern caldera of Kīlauea formed shortly before 1500 AD. Repeated small collapses may have affected parts of the caldera floor,

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