“House of the sun” – Haleakala National Park, Maui…
The land mass of East Maui is simply the top of a huge shield volcano that begins more than 5km below the sea level. Its last spewed molten lava some 200 years ago is still considered to be active, although not currently erupting. Its summit depression is about 12km-long and 4km-wide, formed by erosional forces acting on volcanic rock. In under 2h, we drove from ocean level to the 3055m peak, rising from one ecosystem to the next one – sugar cane fields, Pacific pine trees, blue gum eucalyptus, and even lavander, while temperature and oxygen level went on falling dramatically from 29°C to 9°C! This natural preserved wonder has reminded me of another amazing small volcano – “El Cuervo” from Lanzarote Canary island: 🙂
The only plant that thrives here under the most hostile conditions is the silversword; the volcano offers “it”: hot days, chilly nights, porous ash soil… The soft silvery hairs on its incurved leaves protect it from sunlight and draft. It takes up to 50=fifty years to blossom when it raises an awesome “spike” of purplish flowers! up there, I could catch sight of Big Island’s 2 volcanoes that I visited several years ago: Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa… I approached the “Science City” – kinda fiction-style cluster of research station set in a lunar landscape; data gathered here help scientists to map the movements of the Earth’s crust.