The Big Island is larger in size than all other islands combined!
The Big Island is Hawaii's largest Island at 4,038 square miles and its total size is twice the size of all other Hawaiian Islands
combined. The Island of Hawaii is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the
other. Because Mauna Loa and Kīlauea are active volcanoes, the island of Hawaii is still growing. Between January 1983 and
September 2002, lava flows added 543 acres to the island. The volcano's are all in different phases of their lifecycle:
- Kohala - extinct
- Mauna Kea - dormant
- Hualalai - active but not currently erupting
- Mauna Loa - active
- Kilauea - active and erupting
About 22 mi southeast of Hawaii lies the undersea volcano known as Loihi.
Loihi is an erupting seamount that now reaches about 3,200
feet below the surface of the ocean. Continued activity from Loihi will likely cause it to break the surface of the ocean sometime from
10,000 to 100,000 years from now. At 800,000 years old the Big Island is the youngest of the island chain. However, it was the first
island discovered by voyaging Polynesians. The Big Island is the only Island still growing. Hawaii's volcanoes rise an average of
15,000 feet (4,572 meters) to reach sea level from their base. The largest and most famous, Mauna Loa built itself up to a height
of almost 14,000 feet above sea level (4,169 meters). As a "shield volcano" they are built by accumulated lava flows, growing no more
than about 10 feet at a time to form a broad and gently sloping shape. Hawaiian islands undergo a systematic pattern of submarine
and sub-aerial growth that is followed by a specific pattern of eruption, building, and erosion. An island's stage of development
reflects its distance from the hotspot. Kilauea volcano is the world's most active.
Due to the landscape the Big Island is the home to Parker Ranch, which is the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The Parker
Ranch, near the town of Kamuela, has approximately 480,000 acres of land. The ranch is the home of the world famous Paniolo, which
is Hawaiian for Cowboy. The ranch features great rodeos, ranches, the arts, culture, fine restaurants and the Islands newest hospital.
Parker Ranch even offers private education as Parker School became an independent day school to serve the area's high school students.
Parker School is fully accredited in grades K-12 by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Hawai'i Association
of Independent Schools (HAIS).
Ka Lae (to locals known better as "South Point") is the southernmost point in the US. There is a constant 27 knots wind that
blows east to west, 24/7/365. The oceans around the south point are very treacherous for this reason. The famous green sand
beach is also located here. Papakolea Beach (also known as Mahana Beach) is what the name implies, a green sand beach. It is
located at South Point in the District of Ka'u. There are only two green sand beaches in the United States, the other being in
Guam. The beach gets distinctive coloring from olivine crystals found in a nearby cinder cone. Two of the tallest mountains
in the Pacific - Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa - dominate the center of the island.
The island is the worldwide leader in harvesting macadamia nuts and orchids. Most of the world's macadamia nuts are grown on
the Big Island. A tough nut to crack: it takes 300 lbs. per square inch to break the macadamia nut shell, hardest of all nut shells.
The U.S. is the largest consumer of these nuts (51%) with Japan following at 15%. Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty
acid ("good" fat) and have been demonstrated to help reduce overall cholesterol levels. Nuts are high in minerals and protein and
are part of a healthy diet. Hawaii growers are the world leaders in cultivation techniques.
Mauna Kea is home to the world's biggest telescope and more scientific observatories in one place than anywhere else in the world.
Mauna Kea was recently chosen as the site for what will become the world's largest telescope - a mega-feat of engineering that
will cost $1.2 billion, create as many as 440 construction and other jobs and seals the Big Island summit's standing as the premier
spot on the planet to study the mysteries of space. The new telescope - known as the Thirty Meter Telescope - is set to be completed
in 2018, following seven years of construction. Astronomers say the project is expected to spur big advances in their field and
offer new insight into the universe and its celestial bodies, including whether any far-away planets are capable of sustaining life.
The TMT will be able to see 13 billion light years away, a distance so great and so far back in time that researchers predict they'll
be able to watch the first stars and galaxies in the universe forming.
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