Landscape Architect & Specifier News

MAR 2015

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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20 Landscape Architect and Specifier News h a rd s c a p e s n e w s Nature's Hardscapes Above The leading tip of the Big Island's June 27, 2014 lava flow stalled just a half-mile west of Highway 130, which goes through the small town of Pahoa on the southeast corner of the island. This photo was taken Jan. 24, 2015, showing the lava that oozed down the hill, flowing through fencing and onto the asphalt of the Pahoa Transfer (waste) Station. The 2,000-degree lava heated the rebar in the concrete until the hardscape exploded. It also incinerated a home and surrounded whatever used to be underneath this red roof. "Breakouts" from the main stagnant flow, however, have persisted about 500 meters upslope, as seen by the smoke plumes of burning vegetation. USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report a January 13-16 breakout advanced 430 yards, becoming the new leading edge and scorching 500 acres. Work crews have begun to clear the lava from the transfer station to allow it to reopen. PHOTO: STeVe Kelly, lASN On traveling to the Big Island the week of Jan. 17-24, one of my aspirations was if at all possible to witness flowing lava. I'd been reading about last summer's lava flow bearing down on the little community of Pahoa on the southeastern end of the island, and was intrigued to see the little town and the effects wrought by this distant vent emanating from mighty Kilauea. I was staying at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC), a joint services retreat founded the same year as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, 1916. KMC is perched at the top of the mountain a mile inside the park. Its 4,000-foot elevation keeps the night temperature a chilly 59 degrees (that's cold for this Southern Californian and most of the islanders). You see masses and patterns of stars that you never knew existed, and the pinkish glow of sulfurous steam rising dramatically above the jungle canopy from the venting Kilauea caldera, whose overlook is just a short walk away. KMC, parenthetically, was a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. The camp's chow hall (any islander can eat there on the weekend) shows off a picture of its most illustrious guest, a unformed but relaxed Dwight Eisenhower in 1946 learning against a tree with a cigarette in hand. He was Chief of Staff of the Army then, a statutory office held by a four-star general. I drove down the mountain, ears popping, about 40 minutes to sea level to Pahoa, what one in-depth local guidebook calls an "outlaw" town. I learned the flow had engulfed one home on Nov. 1, 2014, but the flow had stalled just a third of a mile from the two-lane road going through town. Pahoa's supermarket, Malama Market, Long's Drugs, the only pharmacy in Pahoa, along with one of three gas stations have closed, apparently conceding their properties to the goddess of volcanoes, Pele, Ka wahine 'ai honua (the earth-eating woman). Following the smoke rising just west of town, I drove through a checkpoint manned by National Guard soldiers to the area where the lava flow had subsided and piled up, encroaching on a waste treatment facility. While the main flow has stopped, branches of it break out and burn the landscape. Unfortunately, my dream of seeing flowing lava was not to be. It would have required slipping unnoticed by National Guardspersons, wading uphill through dense foliage and following the trail of smoke to the firebreaks. Stepping in the wrong spot could mean ground collapsing and a foot sinking into molton rock…probably a bad plan. The rising smoke pollutes what is about as fragrant and as clean of air as you'll find on the planet. The Hawaii Health Department has now placed air quality monitors in Pahoa. And up the mountain at the entrance to Kilauea Volcano National Park, electronic signs flash "poor air quality," indicating, one assumes, the sulfur from by lASN editor Stephen Kelly (Continued on page 130)

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