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Mauna Kea

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Hawaii, United States.

  • Photo of Mauna Kea
  • Photo of Mauna Kea
Photo of Mauna Kea
Photo by Sherry Ott
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Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet, is the tallest mountain in Hawaii and all of the Pacific Ocean. If measured from its base at the ocean’s floor, 16,000 feet down, it is the tallest in the world. Due to its great weight it has also subsided an estimated 35,000 feet into the crust. Adjacent to Mauna Kea, the cone of Mauna Loa, is only 35 meters lower. Mauna Kea comprises 23% of the island of Hawaii and is its fourth most active volcano. Geologists believe that Mauna Kea has erupted in many episodes during past times. The oldest known rocks are perhaps 237,000 years old and the age of Mauna Kea is estimated to be 1 million years. There seem to be on-and-off eruptions of a few hundred years, followed by quiet periods of a few thousand. Mauna Kea is currently dormant but last erupted about 4500 years ago, before historical times. Earthquakes occur every so often on Mauna Kea and this seems to be the result of tectonic faulting rather than the movement of magma. Winter snow falls on the heights, accumulating to many feet, and this has given the peak its indigenous name Mauna Kea, meaning ‘White Mountain.’ Glaciers have existed on Mauna Kea, an estimated three times in the past 100,000 years. Since humans first came to the Hawaiian Islands, Mauna Kea has exerted a powerful spiritual magnetism and pilgrims have often made the long climb up its steep slopes. From the peak, the view is as lovely as any in the world.

Photo: Cairn of stones, pilgrim’s trail, Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea on Sacred Sites.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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