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Environmental Studies: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Essay Example

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Environmental studies: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island of Hawaii and provides a look at two of the world’s most active volcanoes—the Kilauea and the Mauna Loa. The Kilaeua rises to about 4000 feet high but is still growing and is found at the southeastern slope of the Mauna Loa; on the other hand, the Mauna Loa rises about 13,000 feet above sea level and measures about 18,000 from its base below sea level…
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Download file to see previous pages On the other hand, Kilauea has a greater variety in terms of scenery and cultural areas. The green forests in Kilauea feature various stages of regeneration – with early regrowth to denser forests. The rain forests on Kilauea’s peak provide a vista of the Kai Desert. At the shore, the waves cause various rows of jagged cliffs; the periodic eruptions often lead to fresh lava flows which then pour into the sea causing very high steam flows. The summit of Kilauea is surrounded by a depression known as a caldera which runs for two to three miles across and about 400 feet into its northern side. Kilauea’s eruptions usually manifest quiet lava flows and it is even possible to watch an eruption at close range without it causing much danger to the viewer. The scenery of the park is very unusual and diverse, primarily because of its constant volcanic eruptions which have been continuous from 1986 to 1992; more recent flows of lava have caused black scars in the vegetation which grows from the fertile soils of lava and ash deposits. The climate is also varying where it can range from the cold 20s to the high 80s. Leaving the Visitor Center and touring the Crater Rim via a clockwise route would present a drive across into the rainforest filled with ferns and ohi’a trees. The ohi’a lehua is a common tree in the park which grows up to almost 9000 feet; it is also a locally favored native tree and is easy enough to propagate, growing easily in new lava flows. Lush ferns are common in the park and in the rest of Hawaii with various types growing up to 30 feet or more. The Pu’u Pua’a or ‘gushing hill’ was created by the red splatter from the volcanoes and from the cinders of the lava fountains. Acid volcanic gases oxidized iron mineral from lava, causing changes in the rocks from black to reds and yellow browns. Sediments from the park cause black volcanic beaches. Calcium-carbonate shells are also seen mostly from remains of marine organisms like mollusks and gastropods. Other bone fossils may also be seen from the coasts surrounding areas of the park. Based on descriptions and cues from the tour guides, there were volcanic ashes in the park which were mostly rock, mineral, and volcanic glass; there were also lapilli which looked like fine ashes forming from the nuclei of rock fragments; there were also limu which were seen as thin flakes of basaltic glass. Olivine-rich lava were also seen as part of the landscape which was said to be part of the flow of lava to the ocean which then broke, releasing olivine to formulate part of the green sand beach at the Mauna Loa. Pele’s hair are volcanic glass seen formed from the molten lava; Pele’s tears are smaller parts of molten lava which cooled immediately and solidified into glass particles shaped like tear drops. Environmental issues which relate to the park are mostly on the expansion of human activities into protected areas. With more human incursion into protected habitats, the species of plants and animals are endangered. Hawaii is one of the main states which register the most extinction in endangered species in the US. With limited resources however, there does not seem to be any firm showing of means to improve the protection of this park. Its potential therefore for longevity and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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