Lava tube reopens at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The Thurston Lava Tube, a Hawaii Volcanoes National Park attraction, reopened Feb. 21 after a nearly two year-closure.

Nahuku, as the popular walk-through lava tube is also known, closed May 4, 2018, after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake and the eruption of Kilauea.

The lava tube is now open 24 hours a day, and will be lit from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visitors are advised to bring a flashlight and extra batteries when visiting before or after those hours.

“We are overjoyed that we can again welcome visitors back to Nahuku,” Hawaii Volcanoes National Park acting superintendent Rhonda Loh said in a statement.

During the eruption, several large rocks were dislodged from the lava tube’s ceiling, and new cracks appeared. After inspections by National Park Service engineers and geomorphologists, it was determined the tube could be reopened after safety mitigations were met. Additionally, the parking configuration at the tube was reconfigured for safety reasons. Parking at the site is limited to 30 minutes.

The lava tube was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston, a local newspaper publisher. Its Hawaiian name, Nahuku, means “the protuberances,” which possibly refers to the lava stalactites that once covered its ceiling which have disappeared due to souvenir collectors. During the closure, long, delicate roots from ohia trees that grow on top of the lava tube grew down through the ceiling to touch the floor. There are also large colonies of white microbial matter on the lava tube walls. Visitors are urged not to touch the lava tube walls or the roots, as these features have likely reappeared due to the absence of people for more than a year, according to park officials.

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