Mauna Kea

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea as seen from the Mauna Loa monitoring station

Mauna Kea from Mauna Loa Observatory seen from

height 4205  m
location northern part of the island of Hawaii
Dominance 3946 km →  Mount Shasta
Notch height 4205 m
Coordinates 19 ° 49 '45 "  N , 155 ° 27' 36"  W Coordinates: 19 ° 49 '45 "  N , 155 ° 27' 36"  W.
Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
Mauna Kea
Type Shield volcano
rock basalt
Age of the rock Pleistocene to Holocene
Last eruption 2460 BC Chr. ± 100 years
particularities Hawaii's tallest mountain
The area of ​​Mauna kea

The Mauna Kea volcano ( Hawaiian for Schneeberg or Mauna a Wākea ) is the highest mountain in Hawaii at around 4205  m . If the area below the sea surface is also included when measuring the height, Mauna Kea is the largest and highest mountain on earth at 10,203 meters. Mauna Kea is considered a sacred place in Hawaiian culture.


Topographic map of the summit of Mauna Kea (scale 1: 24,000) by USGS Mauna Kea
Topographic map of Mauna Kea (scale 1: 250,000) by USGS Mauna Kea

The Mauna Kea is of volcanic origin. From the sea floor about 6000 meters below the surface to the summit, it is over 10,000 meters high. Since it has sunk into the seabed due to its heavy weight, the actual foot of the mountain lies below the seabed. From the foot to the summit, Mauna Kea is over 17,000 meters high.

Mauna Kea and the other volcanoes on Hawaii, Mauna Loa , Hualālai and Kīlauea , were created over a hotspot where hot currents, so-called plumes , that rise from the deep mantle , transport material to the earth's surface. In the case of Hawaii , the region with the Pacific lithospheric plate was slowly moved over it by plate tectonics , which resulted in a chain of volcanic islands from the Aleutian Islands to the present day in the middle of the Pacific being formed at intervals of many millions of years .

Unlike its neighbor Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea is currently inactive and is considered a dormant volcano . Its age is estimated to be one million years, the oldest stones found were dated to a little over 200,000 years. The last active phase with at least seven eruptions took place around 6000 to 4000 years ago. There have been periods of dormancy that lasted longer than 4500 years before, so the current long period of dormancy is not necessarily a sign of an extinct volcano.

A deep drilling project has been running on the volcano since 2002. By examining the extracted rock samples from the interior of the volcano, one would like to gain further knowledge about the interior of the earth.

Hawaiian culture

In Hawaiian mythology, Mauna Kea plays a central role. The mountain is considered a sacred place as the top of Mauna Kea has been a special place for prayer for generations. According to Hawaiian belief, one can establish contact with one's ancestors at the top of Mauna Kea and meet living relatives even after one's own death.

Word origin

In Hawaiian mythology, the origin of man is explained by a partnership between heaven and earth. The Heavenly Father is symbolized by Heaven: he spans the earth and people in a protective manner. He offers orientation and guides us through the stars. His wife is the earth mother who gave birth to the earth and now nourishes its inhabitants.

Mauna Kea is the short form of Mauna a Wākea . Wākea is the mythical ancestor of all Hawaiians, who is also associated with the Heavenly Father . According to Hawaiian belief, the tip of Mauna Kea connects the earth with the Heavenly Father and thus with our origin. That is why the tip of Mauna Kea is also the place where one is connected with one's deceased ancestors in prayer.


Mauna Kea is home to the Mauna Kea Observatory , a group of international observatories that together make up the largest observatory in the world. These include the Keck Observatory with its two 10 m mirrors, which are currently among the most powerful telescopes in the world.

Since the telescopes react very sensitively to changes in the position of the subsurface, a typical expansion of the mountain would be registered immediately as a sign that activity is starting again.


In the novel, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell two characters want to climb the mountain on which the observatory is located. The people in the valley live in a post-apocalyptic setting and believe that Old Georgie , their version of the devil, lives on the mountain .

See also

Web links


Photos and videos

Commons : Mauna Kea  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Scientific contributions

Individual evidence

  1. Mauna Kea in Hawaiian Dictionaries ; kea in Hawaiian Dictionaries
  2. ^ Mountains. Highest Points on Earth. National Geographic, accessed January 14, 2014 .
  3. Video Richard Hammond's Journey to the Center of the Earth, Part 2 (from minute 27)  in the ZDFmediathek , accessed on January 14, 2014. (offline)
  4. Christine Hit: The Sacred History of Maunakea , in: Honolulu Magazine, August 5, 2019, .
  5. Wakea in Hawaiian Dictionaries