Volcano Watch: A field trip to the Mountain of Water

E.F. YOUNGER/USGS photo This photo captured this month shows a midwinter dawn at Halema‘uma‘u crater on Kilauea. Steaming cracks tell of water and heat interacting beneath the summit caldera of the volcano. In the background, the first rays of sunlight illuminate Uekahuna Bluff.

The field day begins with a summit weather check at first light. It is a reflective moment at 6:15 a.m. atop Kilauea Volcano, and the fumarole cracks are steaming like the coffee from my thermos. The weather at Halema‘uma‘u crater is cool and dry, with light trade winds from the northeast.