Kahuku Caving

Last weekend I headed south to Ka’u to join up with a couple other members of the Hawaii Speleological Survey to work on a research permit to discover, survey, describe, map, and photograph lava tube caves within Kahuku Unit of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. At 116,000 acres, the Kahuku Unit, formerly Kahuku Ranch, is massive; it stretches from roughly 2,000′ elevation all the way to the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677′ where it joins other lands in this National Park.

It was a beautiful day on our way up to our destination between 5,000′ and 6,000′; it rained/fogged a bunch on the way back.

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It’s beautiful, but all this grass is non-native

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The “5,000′ fence” installed to help move/keep some invasive species to lower elevations

You can be walking 20′ from a cave entrance up here and not even see it! These flows/caves are between 1,500 and 3,000 years old, which makes them MUUUUUUUCH younger than the caves I frequently visit in Florida and Mexico.

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Peter takes a GPS reading at 22J

Where 22J walled out, look at all the colors!

Where 22J walled out, look at all the colors!

Picture of the ceiling showing squeeze-through from a flow younger than the main ceiling

Picture of the ceiling showing squeeze-through from a flow younger than the main ceiling

Close up of some squeeze-through

Close up of some squeeze-through

22J was a fairly short passage before it walled-out. Stay tuned for more tomorrow from 22I which we checked out next and it had some pleasant surprises in store for us!

26 April 2014

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