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Haleakalā Volcano and Wai’anapanapa State Park Research Paper


The proposed trip includes three stops. First, the Haleakalā volcano will be visited (see fig. 1). Then, we will get to the Wai’anapanapa State Park, which will take around 2 hours 40 minutes (see fig. 4). The landscapes should make up for this inconvenience. The Wai’anapanapa lava tube springs (see fig. 2) and black sand beach (see fig. 3) are the two other features of the trip. All the stops are popular touristic sites, which is why they have the entire necessary infrastructure. The specifics of the sites will be investigated as discussed below.

Stop 1: Haleakalā Volcano

Haleakalā is a large shield volcano that is situated in the east of the Island of Maui and basically comprises this part of Maui. Its name is translated as the “House of the Sun.” Having been created by the Hawaiian hot spot, it rises from the ocean floor; its height above the sea level is 3,005 meters, which amounts to about 7% of its true size. It is also 53 kilometers across with the crater of 49 kilometers, and it makes up about 70% of the Island of Maui (Lopes, 2005, p. 98).

The plate tectonic theory explains the creation of volcanoes by studying the movements of tectonic plates that are rigid lithosphere parts (Wicander, 2013, p. 11). Hawaii Islands are not situated on a boundary that would allow the plates to collide or separate. Instead, they are the result of the Pacific plate movement over the “hot spot” or “mantle plume” that has created the volcanoes, which produced the islands (Wicander, 2013, p. 54). Therefore, Haleakalā is one of the volcanoes that have been formed in the middle of a plate by a hot spot. The volcano was also enlarged by erosion to the size that we are introduced to during the trip (Lopes, 2005, p. 98).

The volcano is currently in the non-eruptive phase, and it is being monitored. Its latest eruption took pace in the seventeenth or eighteenth century (Coastal Geology Group, 2013; Lopes, 2005). The earthquakes that are being registered are not considered to be the result of its activity, but it is not excluded that it may erupt again (Lopes, 2005, p. 105).

The volcano (and volcanoes in general) has its economic uses. In particular, it has become a tourist attraction, which contributes to the economic development of the island. Similarly, the specific natural features of a great part of Maui (including the following two stops that will be visited during this trip) are the results of its activity. The volcano also has produced resources (for example, basalt), which can also be regarded as a benefit (Lopes, 2005). To sum up, the Island of Maui would not exist in the way that we know it today without Haleakalā.

Stop 2: Wai’anapanapa Spring

Wai’anapanapa State Park is rich with varied features. Among them are the springs that are located in its large lava tubes and filled with groundwater (Lopes, 2005). These lava tubes are the results of a relatively common phenomenon: the solidification of the “peripheral portions” of a moving lava stream. The results are peculiar stalactites and “shelves.” Most of the tubes lack the “ceiling” or have holes in it, which indicates that these parts of the formation must have remelted (Ziegler, 2002, p. 5). At a point after their formation, groundwater flooded the tubes, and they became a popular swimming place (Lopes, 2005).

The water in the tubes of Wai’anapanapa Park is fresh and pure; it can be considered a part of groundwater resources of Maui (Lopes, 2005). In this particular area, the springs are used for swimming and as a tourist attraction. In general, Maui uses groundwater resources for consumption, works to manage them effectively and aims to protect them. Still, as the result of the usage, the level of the groundwater has declined, and the chloride concentrations have risen (US Department of the Interior, 2010). Apart from that, the water has been polluted with other substances, in particular, agricultural waste (Naie & McMahon, 2011).

The government of Maui endeavors to research new, more effective techniques of using groundwater (US Department of the Interior, 2010). The need for the development of such techniques is explained by the fact that groundwater is the principal source of the domestic water supply of Maui (Naie & McMahon, 2011). In particular, the Iao and Waihee aquifer areas provide water for the entire island (US Department of the Interior, 2010, par. 1).

Naie and McMahon (2011) mention the drawbacks of using well and aquifer water: they are concerned with “high cost of pumping, lack of public land for well sites, agricultural pollutants in many aquifers, permitting and the expense of infrastructure installation to relatively remote well sites” (para. 7). Still, despite these issues, the economic benefit of using groundwater cannot be denied: this is a valuable resource that in necessary for the future of the island and requires proper management (US Department of the Interior, 2010).

Stop 3: Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach

The Wai’anapanapa black sand beach Pa’iloa is a part of the Hana shoreline that is generally characterized by steep and rocky headlands, high cliffs, and small islands (Coastal Geology Group, 2013). Pa’iloa also features cliffs and lava rocks; apart from that, it can be used to watch a variety of sea birds. The black sand is the product of the wave-caused erosions of the basaltic lava cliffs in the area, which, in turn, are the products of the island’s past volcanic activity (Lopes, 2005).

According to Norcross-Nu’u, Fletcher, and Abbott (2008), the primary issue of modern Maui beaches is erosion, and humans have contributed to the problem by exploiting natural resources. Still, not all the parts of Maui shoreline are equally developed and exploited, and the Wai’anapanapa State Park is relatively untouched and protected, even though it is a full-fledged touristic attraction now (Derrick & Derrick, 2006).

The island proceeds to develop its understanding of coastline and, in particular, beach management (Coastal Geology Group, 2013). The health of a beach defines that of the area and its wildlife, and Maui government employs the following techniques to preserve its beaches: monitoring, individual management, and contemporary interventions that are mindful of the possible consequences for nearby nature (Norcross-Nu’u et al., 2008). The key technique that Norcross-Nu’u et al. (2008) describe is the beach nourishment (replenishment of the sand of an eroded beach); as for other methods, they insist on an individual approach to varied areas of Maui.

The island of Maui is “composed of two large volcanoes” (Coastal Geology Group, 2013, para. 1). One of them, the West Maui Volcano, is extinct, but Haleakalā is dormant. The island is still setting on the ocean floor (its speed is several centimeters per year), which occasionally leads to small earthquakes (Lopes, 2005, p. 105). This process “moves” the Hawaii Islands over their “hot spot.” As a result, the islands do not appear at a plate boundary, but on one of the plates (the Pacific one), and their creation and volcanic activity are explained by the existence of a “stationary mantle plume” in the area (Wicander, 2013, p. 54). The existence of the Islands demonstrates the variety of natural phenomena that can lead to similar outcomes.


Coastal Geology Group. (2013). . Web.

Derrick, J., & Derrick, N. (2006). Mau’i mile by mile. Columbia, S.C.: Hawaiian Style.

Lopes, R. (2005). The volcano adventure guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Naie, L., & McMahon, M. (2011). Maui’s water resources: A general overview. Web.

Norcross-Nu’u, Z., Fletcher, C., & Abbott, T. (2008). Beach management pan for Maui. Web.

US Department of the Interior. (2010). Recent hydrologic conditions, Iao and Waihee aquifer areas, Maui, Hawaii. Web.

Wicander, R. (2013). Historical geology. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

Ziegler, A. (2002). Hawaiian natural history, ecology, and evolution. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

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"Haleakalā Volcano and Wai'anapanapa State Park." IvyPanda, 7 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/haleakal-volcano-and-waianapanapa-state-park/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Haleakalā Volcano and Wai'anapanapa State Park'. 7 September.

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