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Volcanoes National Park Celebrates 100th Birthday

August 1, 2016, 3:49 PM HST
* Updated August 1, 4:44 PM
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Kīlauea is putting on quite a show for park visitors eager to see a volcanic eruption—just like it was 100 years ago today when Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was established on Aug. 1, 1916.

Today, as the park enters its next century, visitors were treated to free entry, a native plant giveaway, Hawaiian music by Ken Makuakāne, lei making and kōnane (Hawaiian checkers), plus presentations about park efforts to save endangered nēnē (Hawaiian goose) and honu‘ea (Hawaiian hawksbill turtles).

Lava cookies and centennial stickers were shared with the first 100 visitors who arrived for the festivities.

A lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the volcano’s 4,000-foot summit continues to rise and spatter, deflate and degas. At night, the lake casts a magnificent glow, park officials reports, and by day, a plume of steam, particles and gas billows upward.

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Visitors can easily and safely observe this eruptive activity from an accessible overlook at Jaggar Museum.

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“It is amazing that in 1916, the year the park was established, we had two eruptions,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Mauna Loa erupted during May and sent lava towards Kahuku, and Halema‘uma‘u fountained and spattered. Fast forward 100 years and Kīlauea erupts from two locations. What an auspicious way to commemorate our centennial anniversary.”

A week ago, out in the volcano’s remote east rift zone, lava from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent streamed down forested cliffs and crossed an emergency access route. Early the next morning, streams of rough ‘a‘ā and smooth, viscous pāhoehoe lava plunged down jagged coastal cliffs into the ocean.

This cascade of molten lava, at the Kamokuna ocean entry, has enlarged to almost 800 feet across and is being fed by the active flow field on the coastal plain.

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Park visitors are urged to stay away from the steep, unstable sea cliffs, and rangers have placed rope barriers along the ocean entry to keep people safe.

Hikers can access the active flow field from the end of Chain of Craters Road in the park, along the gravel emergency route (Chain of Craters-Kalapana Road), and are rewarded with beautiful sights of molten, flowing lava.

It’s a long and hot hike, nearly five miles one way.

Preparation is key. Bring at least three to four quarts of water per person. Wear sturdy closed-toe hiking shoes or boots, gloves to protect the hands, and long pants to protect against lava rock abrasions. Wear sunblock, sunglasses and a hat. Visitors who plan to stay after dark need a flashlight and/or headlamp with extra batteries.

“There’s no way to tell what Kīlauea will do next, and it’s likely that someone will be saying the same thing 100 years from now,” Orlando said.

Entrance station and ti leaf lei 8.1.16

Visitors were treated to free entry to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on its 100th anniversary, Aug. 1. The entrance station was draped in two 40-foot tī leaf lei made by park staff . NPS photo/Sami Steinkamp

Keiki enjoy kōnane at the 100th anniversary of HVNP

Keiki enjoy kōnane at the 100th anniversary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS photo/Sami Steinkamp

Eric Fandrick glow and moon_lr

Halema‘uma‘u, the summit crater of Kīlauea volcano, glows under moonlight. Photo/Eric Fandrick

Visitors at the Kamokuna ocean entry 7.31.16_MedRez

Visitors observe the beauty of the Kamokuna ocean entry on the eve of the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s 100th anniversary. Rangers have placed rope barricades to keep people away from the unstable, steep cliff edges, flying volcanic debris and fumes and bench collapse. NPS photo/Sami Steinkamp

HVNP 100 Staff Photo on 8.1.16_MedRez

The employees, partners and volunteers of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the morning of the park’s 100th anniversary. NPS photo

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