The Big Island, lava, and Pele

The Big Island of Hawaii is built by lava. Seriously. If you start from the bottom of the ocean where the island of Hawaii starts to the top of Mauna Kea, which is 13,700+ above sea level, then it would be higher than Everest by far.

On the south side of the island, lava flows are everywhere. Some are ancient, some just a few decades or centuries old. The entire island is created from lava. Over countless eons, the lava breaks down into soil, aided by seeds that somehow can germinate in the lava rock. They split the rock and deposit organic matrials which aid in the turning of lava rock into soil.

As shown in the photo, trees can grow in lava. These are coffee trees. A Kona grower told us that, yes, coffee can grow in lava – after you break the lava into small pieces, that is.

Parts of the island are dry, others, like Hilo, are extremely wet. Drive round a bend and the geography, climate, and plant life can change quickly and drastically. There are huge open pastures for cattle as well as rain forests.

And it all originally had its birth in lava.

Image is Pele, Hawaiian Goddess of the Volcano, from the museum at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Do not trifle with her.

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