Explore Geology
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National Historic Park


cover of park brochure

park geology subheading
offshore at Kalaupapa National Historic site
Kalaupapa National Historic Site, Hawaii

Kalaupapa National Historical Park was established on December 22, 1980. Still in its formative years, it is dedicated to the past, the present and the future. It is dedicated to preserving the memories and experiences of the past in order that valuable lessons might be learned from them. It is dedicated to providing a well-maintained community to ensure that the present residents of the Settlement may live out their lives in this, their home. And, it is dedicated to the education of present and future generations with regard to a disease that has been shrouded in fear and ignorance for centuries.

Kalaupapa, the Hawaiian place name, is perhaps best interpreted as "a flat leaf". The peninsula is, in fact, a comparatively flat leaf of lava about 2¼ miles wide, projecting out from what is referred to by Kalaupapa residents as "topside" by a 2,000 foot pall (cliff). The peninsula was formed by a small volcano whose source is Kauhako Crater and whose rim elevation is approximately 400 feet. It represents an excellent example of an Icelandic shield volcano.

Located on the central northern coast of the island of Molokai, Kalaupapa National Historical Park includes a portion of the spectacular north shore cliffs, a National Natural Landmark. The cliffs are of landmark status for their geological significance and expose the numerous layers of lava that make up most of the eastern end of the island. To the east of the park they can be seen rising from the ocean over 3,000 feet.

The authorized boundary of the park includes the peninsula itself, Nihoa (a traditional land unit west of Kalaupapa), and three narrow valleys deeply eroded into the original shield volcano of east Molokai. All three valleys, Waikolu, Waialeia and Walhanau, are bordered on three sides by 1,600 to 3,000 foot pall. Also included is an offshore area ¼-mile from high tide line, a strip of land along the top of the pall from Palaau to Walhanau, and a portion of Palaau State Park. A total of approximately 10,726 acres is included within this boundary. This includes about 8,726 acres of land and about 2,000 acres of offshore area.

Some of the more remote areas of the park include rare native habitat for several endangered endemic Hawaiian plants and animals. These areas range from the dry northern end of the peninsula through the deep moist valleys up to the upper rain forests of the Puu Alii area. In addition, stone structures and features over the landscape represent occupational periods from pre-European contact to and through the early historic period in the first part of the 1 9th century. There are numerous stone walls and other agricultural features such as terraces, planting areas and stone piles. House sites, living areas and religious structures or shrines are also present. Except in those areas where the archeological features have been destroyed, no area can be considered to be void of archeological resources. The sheer number and types of archeological resources that exist today, the possibility that there has been 900 to 1,000 years of occupation and use within the park, and the excellent state of preservation of the resources combine to make Kalaupapa National Historical Park one of the richest and most valuable archeological preserves in Hawaii.

park maps subheading

The General park map handed out at the visitor center is not available.

For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.

photo album subheading

A geology photo album has not been prepared for this park.

For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.

books, videos, cds subheading

Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.

Please visit the Geology Books and Media webpage for additional sources such as text books, theme books, CD ROMs, and technical reports.

Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
ISBN 0-393-92407-6
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout

The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!

Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.

geologic research subheading

For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.

The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.

A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.

selected links subheading

NPS Geology and Soils Partners

NRCS logoAssociation of American State Geologists
NRCS logoGeological Society of America
NRCS logoNatural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
USGS logo U.S. Geological Survey

teacher feature subheading

Currently, we do not have a listing for any park-specific geology education programs or activities.

For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.
updated on 01/04/2005  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/parks/kala/index.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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