Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

November 11, 2010


Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

November 2010 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's ChoiceAncient geomorphic forces and before-your-eyes weather patterns meet dramatically every day around and atop the volcano Haleakala (House of the Sun). Haleakala is the summit of the Hawaiian island of Maui, standing 10,023 feet (3,055 m) above sea level. Hawaii’s chain of islands formed as the earth’s crust moved over a magma hot spot in the mid-Pacific Ocean. Like all other Hawaiian volcanoes, Haleakala is a shield volcano, built up layer-by-layer from the ocean floor. During a long dormant period, wind, water and even ice eroded the volcanic cones, sometimes creating wide valleys that later filled with lava when Haleakala awoke from its torpor. The coral and apricot mounds shown at right center are cinder cones, each the site of a prior eruption.

A serpentine highway climbs to the top of Haleakala affording visitors fabulous views of Haleakala National Park, Maui and the blue Pacific. Trade winds typically carry moisture upward and a skirt of morning mist begins to form at mid-mountain. By afternoon more substantial fogs and clouds can actually drop a little rain, even though the volcano’s top is cloud free. On average, the rain forest above Hana, on the island’s eastern coast, receives up to 400 inches (1,000 cm) of precipitation per year. However, Kihei, only about 15 miles (24 km) away but on the lee side of the island, manages but 10 inches (25 cm). Photo taken on October 18, 2010.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D60; Focal Length: 18.0mm; Aperture: f/13.0; Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100); ISO equiv: 100.