We had a little safety lecture before we ever got out of the bus in Volcanoes National Park. We were instructed that if we felt a tremor, to return to the bus immediately, because we were leaving ASAP. They take no chances. They keep a very careful count of who is in the park at all times. Kinda frightening, but good to know they take our safety seriously. This is a live volcano!
Isn't it interesting that it's a hole in the ground? You usually picture them as a cone! Sometimes they look like that, but more often the center of the hole goes down and the magma is leaking out the sides underground, slowly making its way to the ocean.
Here we are as close to the caldera as they let civilians get these days. There's a great little museum perched on the side of the crater with a cool windowed room in which you can see all the various seismographs madly scribbling away, one for each of the volcanoes on the island. We also learned that Hawaii is busy making itself another island–there is another volcano under the sea that is steadily bubbling its way to the surface. They figure they can start selling real estate in a mere 10,000 more years at the rate it is going.
One really wild thing was all the steam vents in Volcanoes National Park. You could walk over to them and put your hand in if you wanted (not recommended). Apparently the regular rainwater trickles down through the cracks and crevices in the rocks, becomes superheated when it gets close to the magma, and evaporates as steam. All over! We saw many of these little wisps coming out of the ground.