There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track. Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.
The pullout at Halona Kahakai is at very near the crest of the Holei Pali fault escarpment. In Hawaiian, “pali” means cliff. The viscosity and angle of repose of flowing oceanic tholeiite basalt, the lava that built Kilauea, is such that when it cools, rarely do slopes exceed a 6% grade. Any landform that is much steeper, such as the Holei Pali as seen from Halona Kahakai and the Hilina Pali directly north, generally has to have formed either by faulting or erosion. In this case, Holei Pali results from what are called “normal faults”.
All of the lava plain spread before you down below the escarpment has simply broken off the main slope and dropped. There is an amazing amount of throw on these faults, in places, as much as 1400 feet. Although appearing “volcano tough” to the casual observer, the Islands of Hawaii are terribly, terribly fragile constructions and, geologically speaking, don’t last very long.
So stop and take a moment to look down the pali. Generally, the explosion cloud from where the lava is entering the ocean is visible south east from here. Look at the intertwining lava flows marching across the plain below you and imagine what it must have been like to be here, only a few decades ago, when the lava was coursing down this cliff and through the now largely-destroyed Naulu Forest.
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