Statement of Significance
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains Mauna Loa and Kilauea, two of the world’s most
active and accessible volcanoes where ongoing geological processes are easily observed. This
property serves as an excellent example of island building through volcanic processes. Through
the process of shield-building volcanism, the park's landscape is one of relatively constant,
Criterion (viii) This property is a unique example of significant island building through ongoing
volcanic processes. It represents the most recent activity in the continuing process of the
geologic origin and change of the Hawaiian Archipelago. The park contains significant parts of
two of the world's most active and best understood volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The
volcano Mauna Loa, measured from the ocean floor, is the greatest volcanic mass on earth.
Lies in the south-east part of the island of Hawaii (Big Island), the easternmost island of the State
of Hawaii, and includes the summit and south-east slope of Mauna Loa and the summit and
south-western, southern, and south-eastern slopes of the Kilauea Volcano. The park extends from
the southern coast, with its volcanic sea cliff headlands to the summit calderas of Kilauea, the
most active volcano in the world (with more than 50 recorded eruptions in the last 33 years up to
1985) and Mauna Loa volcanoes. The latter is a massive, flat-domed shield volcano built by lava
flow layers and is considered to be the best example of its type in the world, extending from
5,581 m below sea level to 4,169 m above.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is greatest and the calderas of Kilauea are one of most
studied in the world: in fact there is a geologic station dating from 1912.
The climatic gradient varies with altitude from tropical humid to alpine desert.
The park contains a high diversity of plant communities with striking life-form and
physiognomic differences; 23 distinct vegetation types have been described for the park, ranging
from the very diverse tropical rainforest of 'Ola'a to the scrub and grassland of Ka'u and the
alpine tundra of Mauna Loa, grouped into five major ecosystems: subalpine, montane seasonal,
montane rainforest, submontane seasonal and coastal lowlands. The 'Ola'a Forest tract, over
4,000 ha in size, is probably the largest remaining tract of virgin ohia and fern forest in the
Hawaiian Islands. The native flora numbering 41 species, with a further 40 listed as rare and