Haleakalā, also known as the East Maui Volcano, is a possibly active shield volcano that is located in Hawaii and actually comprises 75 percent of the island of Maui. Its name means house of the sun in the Hawaiian language and local legend says that the crater was the home of the demigod Māui’s grandmother, who helped him to force the sun to move slowly over the course of the day in order to prolong it. This volcano reaches an elevation of 3,055 feet and it holds steep slopes and a few volcanic cones.

Haleakalā has been active for the past 30,000 years and is thought to have last erupted in the seventeenth century. Its crater was not formed volcanically, but emerged when two large valleys merged together at its summit. Although this volcano has not erupted since the seventeenth century, its rate of eruption has given it a rating of Hazard Zone 3 or Hazard Zone 4. This rating is based on number of eruptions and lava flow.

Haleakalā is located within Haleakalā National Park, which holds 30,183 acres of land. The area is popular among tourists, who can stay in rough cabins overnight, and locals who often view the sunset from the visitor’s center. The summit reaches a temperature between forty and sixty degrees Fahrenheit and can be reached using the Sliding Sands Trail or the Halemauʻu Trail. The park can be accessed by the Haleakalā Highway, allowing visitors to drive through it for ten dollars per vehicle. Tour buses take visitors to the summit and visitors can also explore on horseback. The area is popular for astrophysical research, because it is clear, dry, and devoid of light pollution. Scientists travel to “Science City,” a complex managed by the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Smithsonian Institution, and other organizations, in order to study celestial bodies and manmade objects in space like satellites.

Image Caption: Sliding sands trail, Haleakala, Maui. Credit: Navin75/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)