The Impacts of Sugar

The impact of the sugar industry in these islands simply cannot be overstated. For over a century sugar was the dominant industry in the islands consuming land, water, and people. These islands were shaped by sugar, physically and culturally.

An abandoned truck sits outside the Kōloa sugar mill
An abandoned truck sits outside the Kōloa sugar mill

So much of what you see today is a direct resut of sugar, many people and cultures that now call these islands home are descended from the immigrant laborers who came to work the plantations. These immigrants brought with them thier languages and so much more. So many traditions, foods, and words, blended with the Native Hawaiian culture to create the island culture we enjoy.

While this legacy is seen on almost all of the islands it seems most visible on the southern shore of Kauai, perhaps as these plantations were some of the last to shut down, and very little has replaced or re-developed in the area. Plantation towns sit in the shadow of rusting mills that loom over the landscape.

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Yet Another Volcano Run

Once was not enough, I had to do it again. The allure of lava too much I planned yet another run across island in the middle of the night to see the lava at Kilauea.

The western vent spilling lava into the lake at Halemaʻumaʻu
The western vent spilling lava into the lake at Halemaʻumaʻu

This time Deb would come along, mistakenly agreeing to to 0130 alarm clock and possibly regretting it as she climbed out of bed. Thus we drove through the night passing through the park gates a little before 4am.

A larger crowd greeted us this time. The parking lot was lamost half full and there were more folks passing us on the walk out to the viewpoint.

This trip would feature a bit of moonlight over the caldera rather than the dark skies of two weeks ago, a quarter moon in the eastern sky. I had hoped for a few thin moonlit clouds to use in the compositions, but this did not happen. The morning was completely cloud free over the caldera, and nearly calm, the plume rising striaght up from the lava.

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Monk Seals

Somehow I had gone fifteen years in Hawaii without seeing a monk seal in the wild. How I had managed this I will never know, perhaps just bad luck.

A pair of A Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) slumber in the sand at Mahaiʻula beach
A pair of A Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) slumber in the sand at Mahaiʻula beach

Been there, done that.

Not just one monk seal, but three. And a great view, watching as the seals played in the water then pulled up on the beach to rest for the day.

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Magnitude 6.2

Well? That was the strongest shake we have had in a while. Magnitude 6.2 well offshore of the south end of the island.

The whole house rattled for a while, then a few sharp bangs, then it rumbled on for a while longer. Nothing knocked off shelves, just a steady rattle of plates and photos on the wall. The 3D printer took no notice, happily plotting along.

The cats did take notice, Electra disappearing under the bed, not to re-appear for a while. Ras was all perky-eared and vigilant.

For this quake I guessed not only the distance correctly, but the magnitude to within 0.3, (guessed 6.5, USGS revised 6.2). We have plenty of experience with big island shakes at this point. I felt both the S and P waves arrive, that gave me distance. What surprised me is the depth, 21 miles down, that is below the crust, into the mantle.

Magnitude 6.1 Down South
USGS plot of a magnitude 6.1 earthquake off the south end of the island with aftershocks, Oct. 10, 2021

A Month for Disaster

There is a meme running around that relates all too well at the moment…

Smoke Over Waikoloa
Smoke from an approaching wildfire stains the skies over Waikoloa

Worst month ever!
What do you mean this is only the 1st?

Anonymous social media meme

This month is only four days old and we are quite ready to agree with whomever coined that meme.

Sunday, August first started out peaceful enough. I was looking forward to a relaxing day with a few chores about the house. The only nagging worry was keeping tabs on the large brushfire raging towards Waimea, though it was many miles away. As the winds picked up this worry also intensified, to where I had to the local emergency radio feed streaming on the computer speakers.

When the fragmentary radio chatter from the fire units indicated that the fire had jumped Highway 130 I knew what was coming next… An evacuation of Waikoloa Village.

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Ancient Nothings

An ancient megalith here on Hawaiʻi? That would be cool, check this out!

A YouTube video of a supposed ancient megalith in North Kohala
The video I find linked on a local Facebook group shows a rayed structure on the ground a few miles north of Kawaihae, with lines radiating from a central point for a mile or more, an enormous compass that points at destinations near and far from the islands.

It is a striking feature, but it is quite the jump to claim that this is a geoglyph created by an ancient civilization.

The video explains that the feature is 120,000 years old based on the geologic datings of the lava flows on the western slope of the Kohala. Part of this dating is based on a map of the island inscribed around the compass.

I know this area fairly well, even know some of the local ranchers, I find the evidence provided by the video a bit lacking. There are more than a few real archaeological remains in the area, remains of the rich Hawaiian culture that existed in the area before western contact.

As soon as I looked at the Google satellite imagery I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking at. A few moments of research confirmed my suspicions… The pattern on the ground is a paddock system used to control cattle movements in a section of range land. I am a bit disappointed, but not really surprised.

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