Hawaii February 01, 2016
11 Things You May Not Know About Hawaii’s Mauna Kea But Should
Hawaii is full of majestic mountain peaks and lush valleys, but there is one summit that stands tall above the rest. Mauna Kea, or Mauna a Wakea in Hawaiian culture, is Hawaii’s tallest peak, but also one of the most fascinating mountains in the Pacific.
1) Mauna Kea measures in at 13,796 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state of Hawaii.
The peak is so tall, in fact, that visitors are advised to stop at the visitor center for at least half an hour to acclimate to the elevation before continuing on to the summit.
2) Much of the mountain is submerged under the Pacific Ocean, and when measured from its oceanic base, the mountain is more than 33,000 feet tall.
That's taller than Mount Everest!
3) At approximately one million years old, Mauna Kea passed the most active shield volcano stage hundreds of thousands of years ago.
4) The volcano last erupted 4,000 to 6,000 years ago, and is now considered dormant.
5) Mauna Kea contains various small cinder and pumice cones near its summit, but does not boast a visible summit caldera.
It is possible, however, that a former summit caldera was filled and buried by later eruption deposits.
6) Due to the high altitude, dry environment and stable airflow, the summit of Mauna Kea is one of the world’s best sites for astronomical observation.
Since the access road was built in 1964, thirteen telescopes funded by eleven countries have been constructed.
7) The Mauna Kea Observatories are used for scientific research across the electromagnetic spectrum; it is the largest facility of its kind in the world.
8) In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of Hawaii Island are sacred, and Mauna Kea is considered to be the most sacred; an ancient law mandated that only high ranking ali’i could visit the summit.
9) The debate about the observatories resting on such a sacred landscape rages on, especially since plans for a new 30-meter telescope were approved in 2013.
There have been various protest movements by those who believe that development on the mountain is sacrilegious, and a pending court case has been accepted by the Supreme Court of Hawaii over the issue.
10) The summit lies about the tree line, and primarily consists of lava rock and alpine tundra. Growth is restricted by extremely cold temperatures, a short growing season, little rainfall, and snow during the winter months.
11) Mauna Kea is one of five shield volcanoes that make up Hawaii Island, the youngest island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
You can see Mauna Loa, another shield volcano, in the distance in this photograph taken from Mauna Kea.
Mauna Kea, while just one of the amazing mountains throughout Hawaii, is pretty magnificent, is it not?