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East Maui Volcano
Haleakalā crater
Elevation 10,023 ft (3,055 m)
Prominence 10,023 ft (3,055 m)
Ranked 85th
Listing Ultra
HP of Maui
Haleakalā is located in Hawaii
Location Maui, Hawaii, U.S.
Range Hawaiian Islands
Topo map USGS Kilohana (HI)
Type Shield volcano
Age of rock <1.0 Ma
Volcanic arc/belt Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain
Last eruption between 1480 and 1600
Easiest route paved highway
Sunrise at Haleakalā

Haleakalā (; Hawaiian: ), or the East Maui Volcano, is a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. The western 25% of the island is formed by another volcano, Mauna Kahalawai, which according to volcanologists, used to be over 13,000 feet high, but has collapsed and eroded down to a much smaller 5,100 feet. Mauna Kahalawai is the older of the two volcanoes at 1.4 million years old and Haleakala is 1.2 million years old. Mauna Kahalawai, because of all the erosion giving it the look of many mountains is referred to as the West Maui Mountains.

The tallest peak of Haleakalā ("house of the sun"), at 10,023 feet (3,055 m), is Puʻu ʻUlaʻula (Red Hill). From the summit one looks down into a massive depression some 11.25 km (7 mi) across, 3.2 km (2 mi) wide, and nearly 800 m (2,600 ft) deep. The surrounding walls are steep and the interior mostly barren-looking with a scattering of volcanic cones.


  • History 1
  • Geology 2
    • Volcanic hazard 2.1
  • Modern uses 3
    • National Park 3.1
    • Astrophysical research 3.2
    • Transportation 3.3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early Hawaiians applied the name Haleakalā ("house of the sun") to the general mountain. Haleakalā is also the name of a peak on the south western edge of Kaupō Gap. In Hawaiian folklore, the depression (crater) at the summit of Haleakalā was home to the grandmother of the demigod Māui. According to the legend, Māui's grandmother helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day.


According to the United States Geological Survey

  • Haleakalā Crater Webcam
  • Time Lapse animations of the Haleakalā Crater Webcam
  • Haleakalā National Park
  • Geology of Haleakalā
  • Hike Maui, An Authorized Haleakalā Tour Operator

External links

  • "Official Website". Haleakalā National Park. Retrieved March 2010. 
  • Macdonald, Gordon A.; Abbott, Agatin T.; Peterson, Frank L. (1983). Volcanoes in the Sea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 


  1. ^ Current Alerts for U.S. Volcanoes
  2. ^ In its prime, Haleakala may have reached a height of 12,000 feet before water and wind erosion, and possibly glaciers, began to carve two large river valleys out of the rim. Eventually, these valleys formed gaps that merged at the volcano summit to create a crater-like basin.
  3. ^ "Youngest lava flows on East Maui probably older than A.D. 1790".  
  4. ^ Macdonald, Abbott, & Peterson p. 391
  5. ^ a b I island?"ʻ"How do Maui lava-flow hazard zone numbers compare to those on Hawai. Lava-Flow Hazard Zones, Island of Hawai'i, Frequently Asked Questions. USGS. 
  6. ^ a b c  
  7. ^ "Park Management". Haleakalā National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  8. ^ Decker, Robert; Decker, Barbara (2001). Volcanoes In America's National Parks. New York: WW Norton & Company Inc. p. 133.  
  9. ^ "Altitude Calculator". 
  10. ^ "Watching and waiting". The Economist. 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-12-06.  From the print edition
  11. ^ Robert Lemos (2008-11-24). "Giant Camera Tracks Asteroids". Technology Review ( 
  12. ^ Duensing, Dawn E. (2009). "Haleakalā Highway". Journal of Pacific 1970 is last eruption History 44 (3): 303–324.  
  13. ^ "National Park Service suspends popular Hawaii bike tour". Associated Press. 2007-10-10. 


See also

Cycling and horseback riding are other popular ways to explore the park. There are a few tour guides on Maui that pick people up at their hotels, and outfit them with a bicycle to glide down the road from just outside the National Park boundary (starting at 6500 ft altitude). Tour operators used to run bike rides down the entire 27 miles from the summit, but in 2007 the National Park Service suspended all commercial bicycle activity within the park boundaries, following multiple fatal accidents.[13]

A well traveled Haleakalā Highway, completed in 1935, is road mainly composed of switchbacks that leads to the peak of Haleakala.[12] The road is open to the public (although parts of it are restricted) and is a well-maintained two-lane highway containing many blind turns and very steep dropoffs. Local animals, including cattle, are often encountered in the roadway. The park charges a vehicle entrance fee of US$10. Public transportation does not go through the park, but tour buses visit the summit regularly.



Some of the telescopes operated by the US Department of Defense are involved in researching man-made (e.g. spacecraft, monitoring satellites, rockets, and laser technology) rather than celestial objects. The program is in collaboration with defense contractors in the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei. The astronomers on Haleakalā are concerned about increasing light pollution as Maui's population grows. Nevertheless, new telescopes are added, such as the Pan-STARRS in 2006.[10][11]

Because of the remarkable clarity, dryness, and stillness of the air, and its elevation (with atmospheric pressure of 71 kPa/533 mm Hg[9]), as well as the absence of the lights of major cities, the summit of Haleakalā (though to a lesser extent than Mauna Kea on neighboring Hawai) is one of the most sought-after locations in the world for ground-based telescopes. As a result of the geographic importance of this observational platform, experts come from all over the world to take part in research at "Science City", an astrophysical complex operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, University of Hawaii, Smithsonian Institution, Air Force, Federal Aviation Administration, and others.

The Space Surveillance Systems

Astrophysical research

The temperature near the summit tends to vary between about 40°F (5°C) and 60°F (16°C) and, especially given the thin air and the possibility of dehydration at that elevation, the walking trails can be more challenging than one might expect. Despite this, Haleakalā is popular with tourists and locals alike, who often venture to its summit, or to the visitor center just below the summit, to view the sunrise. There is lodging in the form of a few simple cabins, though no food, or gas is available in the park.[8]

Surrounding and including the crater is Haleakalā National Park, a 30,183-acre (122.15 km2) park, of which 24,719 acres (100.03 km2) are wilderness.[7] The park includes the summit depression, Kipahulu Valley on the southeast, and ʻOheʻo Gulch (and pools), extending to the shoreline in the Kipahulu area. From the summit, there are two main trails leading into Haleakalā: Sliding Sands Trail and Halemauʻu Trail.

This rare species of Silversword is fragile and lives only upon the slopes of Haleakalā.

National Park

Modern uses

These high hazard estimates for Haleakala are based on the frequency of its eruptions. Haleakala has erupted three times in approximately the last 900 years. By way of comparison, both Mauna Loa and Kilauea have erupted more than a dozen times each in the last 90 years. Hualalai has an eruption rate comparable to Haleakala. All of Hualalai is rated as Hazard Zone 4. However, frequency of eruption of a volcano is only one of the criteria on which hazards are based. The other important criterion is the lava flow coverage rate. Using the preliminary dates for Haleakala flows, only 8.7 square miles (23 km2) of lava flows have been emplaced in the last 900 years. In comparison, approximately 43 square miles (110 km2) of Hualalai are covered with flows 900 years old or younger and approximately 104 square miles (270 km2) on Kilauea and 85 square miles (220 km2) on Mauna Loa are covered by lavas less than 200 years old. Thus, Haleakala is a distant fourth in coverage rates.[6]

Using this same scale, preliminary estimates of lava-flow hazard zones on Maui made in 1983 by the U.S. Geological Survey rated the summit and southwest rift zone of Haleakala as Hazard Zone 3. The steep, downslope areas of the Kanaio and Kahikinui ahupuaʻa and the area north of Hana are rated as Hazard Zone 4. Other areas of Haleakala are rated comparable to the lava-flow hazards of Mauna Kea and Kohala (Hazard Zones 7 through 9).[5][6]

On the island of Hawaiʻi, lava-flow hazards are rated on a scale of one through nine with one being the zone of highest hazard and nine being the zone of lowest hazard. For example, the summits and rift zones of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes are rated Hazard Zone 1.[6]

Lava Flow Hazard map of Haleakala. The Maui Hazard Zone numbers are two less than the equivalent Hawaiʻi Hazard Zone numbers.[5]

Volcanic hazard

Haleakalā is far smaller than many volcanic craters (calderas); there is an excellent chance that it is not extinct, but only dormant; and strictly speaking it is not of volcanic origin, beyond the fact that it exists in a volcanic mountain.

Macdonald, Abbott, & Peterson[4] state it this way:

olau on the north side and Kaupō on the south — on either side of the depression. ʻ of Haleakalā make up the large lava deposits of the Ahihi Kina`u/La Perouse Bay area of South Maui. In addition, contrary to popular belief, Haleakalā "crater" is not volcanic in origin, nor can it accurately be called a caldera (which is formed when the summit of a volcano collapses to form a depression). Scientists believe that Haleakalā's "crater" was formed when the headwalls of two large erosional valleys merged at the summit of the volcano. These valleys formed the two large gaps — Korift zone These last flows from the southwest [3]

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