View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Jaggar Museum & Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The Jaggar Museum is only two and a half miles past Kīlauea Visitor Center, but the landscape changes dramatically. We had driven through beautiful, paradise rain forest, then suddenly you are in the Kaū Desert Wilderness.

The Jaggar Museum is right next to the Volcano Observatory. The museum is open to the public, the observatory isn’t.

Jaggar Museum

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum National Park Service - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
National Park Service

The Jaggar Museum was named after geologist Thomas A. Jaggar. He founded the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, originally just a small observing station on the rim of the Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano. The first instruments were in a cellar near the Volcano House Hotel.

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

The view of the volcano is spectacular.

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is right next to the Jaggar Museum, but it is not open to visit.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory United States Geological Survey - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
United States Geological Survey

The Jaggar Museum has displays of the original tools geologists and volcanologists used to study volcanos. There is a working seismographs, an instrument to measure earthquakes.

You can also see scientist’s burnt and melted clothes and equipment.

There are displays of the different types of lava.

The gift shop has lots of volcano related loot. I bought a sweat shirt because I had not packed warm enough clothes.

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

You can see the volcano through the windows, from the warm and dry museum, But, head outside for the best views.

Large boulder thrown from the crater in an explosive eruption - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Large boulder thrown from the crater in an explosive eruption

In explosive eruptions, fragmented rock may be thrown out of the crater. There is one of these boulders outside the museum.

Tourist binoculars are available to see the caldera - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Tourist binoculars are available to see the caldera

The overlook has binoculars you can use to get a better look.

Mauna Loa In front of you looms the world’s largest active volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Mauna Loa
In front of you looms the world’s largest active volcano

Mauna Loa
In front of you looms the world’s largest active volcano

The summit of Mauna Loa stands 20 miles ahead of you, reaching an elevation of 13,000 feet above the ocean floor. With a volume of 10,000 cubic miles, Mauna Loa is the largest mountain on Earth.

The volcano’s great mass is being built by successive flows of hot molten rock, or lava. The thickness of an individual lava flow averages 12 feet. Mauna Loa is classified as a shield volcano, a volcano with gently-sloping sides resembling a warrior’s shield overturned. Kilauea, the volcano you are now standing on, is also a shield volcano.

It has taken hundreds of centuries and countless eruptions of Mauna Loa to reach its presents size. During the last 100 years, the volcano has erupted more than 18 times. The next eruption could occur at any time.

Steam and other gases boil from the northeast slopes of Mauna Loa on March 25, 1984, signaling the beginning of an eruption lasting 21 days. The photo was taken near this point.

On the mountainside ahead notice the strip of forest between cleared pastures. Trees are thriving because the National Park Service has eliminated feral goats and pigs here.

Mauna Loa is the largest of the five major volcanoes on the island of Hawai’I, accounting for more than on-half the island’s land mass. Most of the volcano lies hidden below the ocean’s surface.

By volume, Mauna Loa is 100 times larger than Mt. Rainier, an older volcanic peak of about the same elevation in Washington state.

A fiery fountain on the flanks of Mauna Loa feeds a lava flow (lower left) during the 1984 eruptoin. Each eruption contributes to the growth of the volcano.

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano

Kīlauea Caldera 1823 compared to Kīlauea Caldera 1979 - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Kīlauea Caldera 1823 compared to Kīlauea Caldera 1979

The displays help you know what you are looking at. This shows the changes from the 1823 eruption and the 1979 eruption.

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

The Halemaʻumaʻu crater on the Kilauea Volcano

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

From the overlooks you really get the views.

The main crater, the summit caldera of Kīlauea, is called Halema’uma’u. Halemaʻumaʻu means “house of the ʻāmaʻu fern”. The crater is active. There is a molten lava lake. You can see the glow at night or even the lava, depending on the level when you are there.

The Changing Face of Kilauea - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

The Changing Face of Kilauea

The Changing Face of Kilauea

Kilauea Caldera has undergone dramatic change wince the 1823 visit of William Ellis, the first Western explorer. In that year, the caldera was almost 1000 feet deep, twice as deep as it is today. An inner pit, several miles across, contained raging lakes of molten lava. Throughout the 19th century, these lakes repeatedly overflowed, building up the level of the floor halfway to the brim. On 4 occasions this process of construction was suddenly reversed by collapses involving almost the entire caldera floor.

By 1905, Kilauea Caldera looked much as it does today. Since then Halem’uma’u Crater has been enlarged and 7 new flows have been added to the caldera floor. These changes continue to reshape the landscape in dramatic ways.

There are a lot of displays and maps, so you know what you are looking at.

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

Rainbow over the volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Rainbow over the volcano

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

This gas eruption of Halema’uma’u crater started in 2008. When we were there, the vent was 525 feet wide.

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Me at the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

View of the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Us at the Kīlauea Volcano summit caldera from the Jaggar Museum

U.S. Geological Survey Elevation Above Sea 4070 Feet - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

U.S. Geological Survey
Elevation Above Sea 4070 Feet

U.S. Geological Survey
Elevation Above Sea 4070 Feet
250 Dollars Fine for Disturbing This Mark

You might have seen these before. This is a USGS Benchmark. The U.S. Geological Survey, now called the National Geodetic Survey marks precise points with these metal pins to create the National Spatial Reference System.

There are two main kinds. This is a vertical control points. Vertical control points mark a very precise elevation above the “standard datum plane” or above sea level.

The other kind is horizontal control points. They precisely establish latitude and longitude.

Area Closed All National Park Service area beyond this point closed to public use and travel because of emergency conditions. - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Area Closed
All National Park Service area beyond this point closed to public use and travel because of emergency conditions.

Area Closed. All National Park Service area beyond this point closed to public use and travel because of emergency conditions. We don’t know what the conditions were. There was a vent that opened within Halemaʻumaʻu Crater not too long before we were there. There was still dangerous fumes and ashfall in some areas.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory United States Geological Survey - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
United States Geological Survey

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum National Park Service - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
National Park Service

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