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From the Holei Pali turnout look back up the pali at the cascading braids of lava that festoon the escarpment. When lava first pours over a steep cliff like this, the increase in speed of flow concomitant with increased flow turbulence, causes the lava to cool rapidly and degas. Thus, the initial flows down the pali are a’a flows. As the lava feeder tube system builds toward and over the cliff, fresher lava insulated in the tube longer, partially buries these initial a’a flows in less viscous pahoehoe. This process is seen clearly on the face of Holei Pali, where lavas that erupted from Mauna Ulu between 1969 and 1974 poured over the cliff. Look at the emerald patches of forest within the intertwined flows. These kipukas are all that is left of the original, dense Naulu tropical forest.

Video written and produced by Donald B. MacGowan; videography by Frank Burgess and Donald MacGowan; Narrated by Frank Burgess, Original music written and performed by Donnie MacGowan. For more information about traveling the Big Island in general and Island Activities in particular, visit and


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