Volcano Watch: Disaster strikes Ka‘u in 1868 — the rest of the story

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY photo/1954

    Most of the lava flow (dark black) produced by the April 1868 Mauna Loa eruption can be seen in this aerial photo on the west (left) side of the prominent fault scarp, known informally as the Kahuku pali (formal names are Pali o Mamalu for the upper half and Pali‘okūlani for the lower half of the scarp). The large littoral cone that formed during the eruption, now named Pu‘uhou, is visible on the lower left coastline. Kalae (South Point) is not visible, but is to the right of the photo. The summit areas of Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes can be seen in the distance.

Already reeling from a destructive earthquake and deadly tsunami and mud flow on April 2, 1868, Ka‘u residents hoped for a reprieve, but it was slow to come.