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TREX 2018 Day 15: Last Day in the National Park

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TREX 2018 Day 15: Last Day in the National Park

By Suchan Vivatsethachai `20

In the morning, we planned to do lava hike at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We had planned to do this hike last week, but did not have a chance to because we moved out when the national park was closed. We decided to split into two groups and the first group had to put some sensors along the way, so they left first. My group left the hotel one hour later, but when we arrived at the national park, the other group had not arrived yet, and we ended up going to different places. Unfortunately, the lava changed direction, so we could no longer reach where lava was within the time limit we had.

Since we had driven all the way to the other side of the island again, we decided to drive along the chain of craters road within the national park. As we parked at one of the craters, we found a nene, Hawaii’s state bird. It was the first time we had seen one this big, and it was also very friendly.

A nene on the chain of craters road

We made another stop where two lava flows met in the past. Looking down from the lava shield, we could clearly see the layers of old and new lava. Plants grow on the old lava flow layers, and the new ones just stay black. The shadow of the cloud on the ocean surface was stunning too.

Lookout from a lava shield

As we reached the end of the road, we spotted a lookout from a cliff. Since the cliff formed when lava reached the ocean and solidified, the bottom of the cliff couldn’t last long against a continuous chain of waves. We could see the cave-like hole across the entire cliff. The wave was also so strong that the splash could reach us on the top! This road sure was a chain of fascinating landscapes.

Wave hitting the cliff creating big splash

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.