Hawaii, forged in fire, shaken by seismic upheavals, and pounded by the sea, is a fabulous paradox of nature.
The Hawaiian chain of islands, made up of six main islands plus two smaller ones, stretches for more than 1,500 miles through the heart of the Pacific Ocean. It is a place of idyllic beauty. But it is also a land of volcanic fury, raging mountaintop blizzards, dangerous rockslides, monster waves, and even tsunamis.
Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, provides the most dramatic display of volcanic power. The volcano’s newest cone, Pu`u `O`o regularly spews molten rock and its steady flow of lava in the past two decades has added more than 500 acres to the island.
High above the sea at nearly 14,000 feet is Mauna Kea, which rises above 40 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, making for ideal stargazing. The summit of Mauna Kea is usually barren and dry, but in the winter the crest experiences blizzards with winds that whip up to 70 miles an hour.
When a blizzard rages on Mauna Kea, chances are good that down at sea level, it’s pouring. Torrential storms are common and can be very destructive. On Oahu, one community found itself in peril after tons of rock rolled down from the hills above. A veil of steel mesh was used to contain the hillside. It will keep the rocks in check for now, but erosion is an inevitable part of the natural order.
On the north shore of Maui waves that originate as far away as Siberia sometimes rise to as much as 70 feet as they break here, earning both the waves and the beach the nickname “Jaws.” Monster waves like these are seen rarely, but lifeguards are vigilant in their efforts to spot them because they can swallow a person in an instant. Still, surfers come from all over the world for a single ride on these shores that may last less than half a minute.
Far deadlier than the waves at Jaws are tsunamis. These fast-moving walls of water are triggered by earthquakes or landslides and have killed more people in Hawaii than any other natural disasters.
NATURE’s Violent Hawaii reveals a tropical paradise shaped by the most brutal forces of the natural world.
Production Credits Print
HD On-line Editor
Additional Footage Courtesy of:
KGMB – Honolulu, Hawaii
KITV – Honolulu, Hawaii
KHON – Honolulu, Hawaii
PACIFIC TSUNAMI MUSEUM
Special thanks to:
Hawaii Film Office
Maui County Ocean Safety
Dr. Walter Dudley
Cave Conservancy of Hawaii
U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Don Swanson, USGS
Carl Thornber, USGS
Tim Orr, USGS
Peter Cervelli, USGS
Office of Mauna Kea Management
Institute For Astronomy At The University Of Hawaii
Terry Kerby, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory
Nathan C. Becker, University Of Hawaii Manoa
For Devillier Donegan Enterprises
JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN
PATRICK GAMBUTI, JR.
Executive in Charge
A Co-Production of Pangolin Pictures, Inc., Thirteen/WNET New York and Devillier Donegan Enterprises, L.P.
This program was produced by Thirteen/WNET New York, which is solely responsible for its content.
© 2004 Thirteen/WNET New York and Devillier Donegan Enterprises, L.P.
All rights reserved.
DANIEL B. GREENBERG
About the Writer
David Malakoff is a journalist covering research discoveries and the politics of science for SCIENCE MAGAZINE in Washington, D.C. His writing has appeared in a wide range of venues, including THE ECONOMIST, THE WASHINGTON POST, and ABCNews.com.
Photos: © EBC
Thirteen Online is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York’s Kravis Multimedia Education Center in New York City. Dan Goldman, Executive Director, thirteen.org. Bob Adleman, Business Manager.