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(editor’s note: The correct pronunciation of this place is “mau LOH uh oh MAH NAH OOH looh”, contrary to the narrator’s pronunciation).

At Mau Loa O Mauna Ulu, flows from Mauna Ulu have crossed and re-crossed the roadway, causing it to need rebuilding a number of times. Notice the shiny glaze of the fresh lava surface, seeming impervious to the forces of nature. Yet nearby, in cracks where seeds lodge and water collects, ferns and lichens have begun to colonize these flows, some as recent as 1974.

After ferns and lichens, ohia and other woody plants come. Here at the Park, one can see the immense role water plays in the revegetation of the volcanic landscape. At Mau Loa O Mauna Ulu, where it is relatively dry, revegetation is slow and may take half a millennium or more to cover a lava flow. Higher up, along Crater Rim Drive, you observe flows as young as a hundred years completely reclaimed by the voracious rain forest where water is abundant.

Between 1969 and 1974 Mauna Ulu erupted almost 760 billion pounds of lava, covering an area of almost 17 square miles in an average depth of 25 feet.

Written and produced by Donnie MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donnie MacGowan. Narrated by Frank Burgess; original musical score written and performed by Donnie MacGowan.

For more information on seeing Hawaii in general and touring the Big Island in particular, visit and


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