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Mokuaweoweo Between 1832 and 1843

flow, lava, seen, summit and pit


Rev. Joseph Goodrich is authority for the statement that lava flowed from several vents about the summit on June 20, Light was observed from Lahaina on Maui, a hundred miles to the northwest.

Lava was seen coming out of the sides of the mountain in dif ferent places. Discharges of red hot lava were seen on every side of the mountain. This would seem to indicate that these flows were like all the later ones, not from the summit, but from some weak spot lower down. The reflection of fire upon the clouds at the first was probably regarded as evidence of a flow from the summit. Earthquakes were noted on Hawaii during the summer and quite an important display of activity was mani fested at Kilauea, probably a few months earlier (Jan. 12).

The impression prevails that these eruptions from Mokuaweo weo and Kilauea were simultaneous ; and to reach this conclusion we must believe that the writing Ian. was a printer's error for June, in the account of Kilauea.

The records are meagre with respect to the location of this flow. The Government map shows a small area upon the south side of the caldera, and close to it, with the label of 1832. I have questioned everybody as to the authority for this representa tion, and no one connected with the Survey can give the informa tion. Our doubt respecting this reference comes from the un usual position immediately adjacent to Mokuaweoweo. None of the eruptions on record later are so situated ; they are lower down. Mr. Green refers its altitude to 13,000 feet in a table, but makes no remark concerning it in his text. The light was seen at Lahaina by Mr. Goodrich. That might have been the illumination always seen at the beginning of every flow. If the discharge was upon the south side it would not be very con spicuous from Maui. Mr. E. D. Baldwin suggests that there is a flow of recent lava, judging from its appearance, just inside of the great prehistoric Keamuku flow, arising near the beginning of the 1852 stream, which would have been visible from La haina, and might possibly have been erupted at this time. Kea

moku is also well situated to answer the conditions even better, should the flow have been sufficiently recent.

In 1834 the summit was visited by Dr. David Douglas, an ex ploring naturalist. Some of his statements have been discredited because of apparent exaggeration of the terrific activity of Mo kuaweoweo. He used instruments for the determination of alti tudes and areas. He represented that there were great chasm's in the pit that he could not fathom, even with a good glass when the air was clear. Upon the east side he used a line and plummet, and obtained the figure of 1,270 feet for the height of the preci pice. The southern part of the crater presented an old looking lava. He heard hissing sounds apparently connected with in ternal fire. The greatest portion of this huge dome was said to be a gigantic mass of slag, scoriae and ashes.

Dr. Douglas lost his life shortly after his return from Mokua weoweo. As his remains were found in a pit where wild cattle were entrapped it was supposed at first that he had accidentally fallen into it and was gored to death ; but recently it has been ascertained that he had been thrown into this pit Jan. 27, 1834, by a bullock hunter named Ned Gurney, an Australian convict. This statement comes from Bolabola, an Hawaiian who was ten years old at the time of the homicide. He and his parents were intimidated by Gurney, so that fifty or sixty years passed before he was willing to testify to the nature of the transaction.

S. E. Bishop says of this locality : In March, 1836, I looked into the pit where David Douglas perished. It was close to the inland trail from Waimea to Laupahoehoe, on the N. N. E. side of Mauna Kea, ten or fifteen miles northwest of Laupahoehoe and in the woods.