Visitors to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and its “Devastation Trail” may not know how/when that devastation happened.
The eruption of Kilauea Iki in November 1959 turned once lush fern forest into a ‘wasteland’ of lava and cinder.
Now, a walkway allows you to walk through the devastation.
During the eruption, fountains of molten lava shot up as high as 1,900-feet tall from the eruptive rifts – 3 times the height of the Washington Monument.
Pumice buried the lush forest, which is preserved on the eastern side of Devastation Trail. On the west side of the trail is the sterile, moon-like devastation surface of pumice.
The eruption deposited and piled up the pumice and cinders into a large mound.
A few ōhi‘a trees, dead and bleached, poke up through the pumice and very gradually some ōhi’a, ōhelo and ferns are beginning to recolonize the dead zone (unfortunately, some blackberry, too.)
While the images of the eruption are spectacular, to really “feel” the power you need to hear the raw force of Hawaiʻi’s volcanoes.
Unfortunately, these old photos/videos do not have audio linked to them.
When we were kids, living on O‘ahu, whenever the eruption happened, we’d go to the Big Island to see it, including the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki.
Primal Force is the name on a Kilauea eruption. It’s that and memorable.
Here are a couple an old video clips of the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption I found on YouTube … no audio.