Taxonomy term

zahra hirji

Living in the shadow of Mauna Loa: A silent summit belies a volcano's forgotten fury

After 30 years, no one is quite sure when Hawaii’s Mauna Loa will erupt again. History warns us that the volcano’s current silence is anomalous, and the odds are good that it will reawaken within the next couple of decades. So geologists are already taking steps — upgrading their monitoring tools and talking with the public — to prepare for another eruption.

01 Sep 2014

Kilauea vs. Mauna Loa

In the 19th century, Mauna Loa was the most active volcano in the world. Today, Kilauea is the star. Tourism agencies, journalists, civil defense, and even U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) geologists have played a role in funneling public attention toward the Big Island’s youngest volcano. Consequently, some people ignore the other volcanic threats on the island, including Mauna Loa. Without knowing the differences between the two volcanoes, people walk away thinking that if they have seen and interacted with one, they know them all.

01 Sep 2014

How to keep the flows out: Build a wall

The upper northern slopes of Mauna Loa are a painter’s palette of red, brown and black lava rocks. A cluster of scientific buildings composing the Mauna Loa Observatory and Solar Observatory stands out with their reflective white and silver rooftops against the Mars-like backdrop.

01 Sep 2014

Risky business: Modeling catastrophes

Natural hazards — earthquakes, tropical cyclones and thunderstorms, for example — occur with considerable frequency around the world. Fortunately, most events are either not intense enough or too remote to cause damage. But the probability that a given natural hazard could become a natural disaster is higher today than at any previous point in history.

30 Sep 2012

The Sleeping Giants

After you’ve gotten a taste of what Kilauea has to offer, consider taking the time to travel to the rest of the Big Island’s volcanoes.

12 Dec 2010

Getting There and Getting Around Hawaii

Many trips to Hawaii’s Big Island involve island-hopping. From the U.S. mainland, you’ll most likely fly through Honolulu on Oahu or Kahului on Maui on your way to either of the Big Island’s airports — Hilo on the east side or Kona on the west side. However, some airlines fly directly to Kona. Once on the Big Island, renting a car is your best bet for getting around because public transportation, albeit free, is virtually nonexistent: Buses run a handful of times a day during the week, but not at all on Sundays. From Hilo, getting to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a 30-minute drive straight up Highway 11. Getting to the park from Kona is more of a trek, a two- to four-hour scenic drive depending on which route you take. 

12 Dec 2010

Travels in Geology: Kilauea: Experiencing Pele's wrath through the eyes of a young geologist

This past summer, I lived a geologist’s dream: residing in a national park and getting up close and personal with Hawaii’s infamous Kilauea volcano. For hundreds of thousands of years, Hawaii’s Kilauea has been erupting on and off. But on Jan. 3, 1983, the volcano began one of its longest (and largest) eruptions, shooting a fountain of lava hundreds of meters into the air. Twenty-seven years later, the volcano is still alive and kicking — in fact, it’s the most active volcano in the world. For volcanologists, Kilauea is a mecca: an accessible active volcano in a picturesque location. So when I landed an opportunity to volunteer at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory near Kilauea, I couldn’t refuse. 

12 Dec 2010

Travels in Geology: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: From parasitic cones to equatorial glaciers

Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest mountain that climbers can reach without technical means. The author decided to try it for herself, and brought back a lifetime of memories and dozens of photos of parasitic cones, equatorial glaciers, lava outcrops, volcanic vents and scenery to die for.

02 Apr 2010

Celebrity climb

One billion people are without access to clean water today. When glacial deposits like the one atop Kilimanjaro melt away, that number will increase, some researchers say. To raise awareness about what some people are calling the global clean water crisis, a team of celebrities climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in January in the “Summit On The Summit.” 
02 Apr 2010

Travel specs

Booking a climb up Kilimanjaro can be a little daunting. I recommend first figuring out your climbing details and then figuring out how you will get to the mountain. Climbs are offered year round, but weather-wise, it is best to go in January and February or September and October. There are six main climbing routes up the mountain, and they all offer unique sites and spectacular views. Besides differing in scenery, these routes vary in physical difficulty, length (between five and 10 days), accommodations and prices. Prices range from $1,200 to $5,000 per person, with costs covering food, accommodations, park fees, transportation and rescue service, should it be necessary. Moreover, all of the agencies have their own supply of gear in case you are missing anything. For a list of respected, well-known tour operators, check out the “Climb with a Partner Company” page on the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project Web site ( 
02 Apr 2010