Wednesday July 18, 2018

Not GPS but Stars help the voyaging canoe, Hokule’a to travel the World

To bring back the ancient culture alive, a group of Native Hawaiians and anthropologists built Hokule'a, forty years ago, which was long forgotten

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Hokule'a arrival in Honolulu from Tahiti in 1976
Hokule'a arrival in Honolulu from Tahiti in 1976, source: Wikimedia Commons
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Hawaii’s famous Canoe, Hokule’a is making a journey engraving its mark on history book pages, traversing the globe by wayfinding. Ancient Polynesian wayfinding technique requires memorizing hundreds of stars from where tey rise and set on the ocean horizon.

“As a navigator, your job is to look at the shape of the ocean,” told Naiona Thompson, the president of Polynesian Voyaging Society to npr.org in an interview. “You have to be on your feet and to be able to feel one wave when it comes through from one foot to another. You only know where you are by memorizing where you come from.”

Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe Hokule'a
Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe Hokule’a, Wikimedia Commons

Onboard this east coast leg is a 12 member crew, a mix veteran native Hawaiian navigators and young, lean learners who have taken their time off as pro surfers and educators.

“This floating island is a representation of the values people should have for the islands we all live in — whether that’s Hawaii, the U.S. mainland or Tangier Island. It’s been really interesting to see how people see themselves in that message. They get it.” said Na’alehu Anthony, 36, who is a crew member.

To bring back the ancient culture alive, a group of Native Hawaiians and anthropologists built Hokule’a, forty years ago, which was long forgotten.

At the time, no one knew the celestial navigating technique, no one knew how to build voyaging canoe -for the 600 years, no voyaging canoe has existed. But a man named Mau Piailug in Micronesia, a Wayfinder taught them how to sail by following cues from nature – not only observing the stars but by observing the bird species and observing the direction of the wind.

In 1976, Mau and a group of Native Hawaiians bet their lives that they could travel from Hawaii to Tahiti on a boat without any present day navigational equipment, to prove the theory that the original people who settled on the islands of Hawaii reached there with the intention of discovering the islands and not by accident.

File:HOKULE'A001.jpg
voyaging canoe Hokule’a at Suo Oshima channel, Japan, Wikimedia Commons

After more than a month , the team finally reached its destination. This victory evoked the hope that the Hawaiian culture is still alive. People on the island demanded that the state should start teaching the Hawaiian language in the schools again.

The Hokule’a gave them the identity.

Since 1976, 25 more sea voyaging canoes have been built across 11 countries, more than 180 crew have taken a turn aboard on global trip.

Till now, Hokule’a has traveled 26,000 miles.

“This canoe is a school that’s about relearning the genius of our ancestors, and about our reconnection to our ocean,” said Thompson, one of the crew member, in an interview conducted by npr.org. “This voyage is not my vision. It’s that of my teachers. I’m just a bridge between them and” — he points to his young crew — “them.”

This voyage would be the last voyage for Thompson and other elder crew members. After that, a new generation of Wayfinders will come onboard and will guide the canoe ahead.

-by Akanksha Sharma

Akanksha Sharma is a student of Journalism and an intern at Newsgram. Twitter @Akanksha4117

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Scientists Go Beyond The Laws Of Nature To Unlock Secrets Of Hawaii Volcano

Geologists have died studying active volcanoes

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Dr. Jessica Ball of USGS, a geologist and volcanologist who does research at the US Geological Survey, is updating Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists on the ground during a helicopter overflight of the ocean entry of the fissure 8 lava flow where a laze (lava haze) plume is visible over the active parts of the flow margin near Kapoho, Hawaii, June 8, 2018.
Dr. Jessica Ball of USGS, a geologist and volcanologist who does research at the US Geological Survey, is updating Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists on the ground during a helicopter overflight of the ocean entry of the fissure 8 lava flow where a laze (lava haze) plume is visible over the active parts of the flow margin near Kapoho, Hawaii, June 8, 2018. VOA

Dressed in heavy cotton, a helmet and respirator, Jessica Ball worked the night shift monitoring “fissure 8,” which has been spewing fountains of lava as high as a 15-story building from a slope on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.

The lava poured into a channel oozing toward the Pacific Ocean several miles away. In the eerie orange nightscape in the abandoned community of Leilani Estates, it looked like it was flowing toward the scientist, but that was an optical illusion, Ball said.

“The volcano is doing what it wants to. … We’re reminded what it’s like to deal with the force of nature,” said Ball, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.

They are a mix of USGS staff, University of Hawaii researchers and trained volunteers working six-to-eight-hour shifts in teams of two to five.

They avoid synthetics because they melt in the intense heat and wear gloves to protect their hands from sharp volcanic rock and glass. Helmets protect against falling lava stones, and respirators ward off sulfur gases.

This is not a job for the faint hearted. Geologists have died studying active volcanoes. David Alexander Johnston, a USGS volcanologist was killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. In 1991,

American volcanologist Harry Glicken and his French colleagues Katia and Maurice Krafft were killed while conducting avalanche research on Mount Unzen in Japan.

Ball, a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, located in upstate New York near the Canadian border, compared Kilauea’s eruptions to Niagara Falls.

“It gives you the same feeling of power and force,” she said.

Worth the risks

Kilauea, which has been erupting almost continuously since 1983, is one of the world’s most closely monitored volcanoes, largely from the now-abandoned Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at the summit. But the latest eruption is one of Kilauea’s biggest and could prove to be a bonanza for scientists.

Ball and the USGS teams are studying how the magma – molten rock from the earth’s crust – tracks through a network of tubes under the volcano in what is known as the “Lower East Rift Zone,” before ripping open ground fissures and spouting fountains of lava.

They are trying to discover what warning signs may exist for future eruptions to better protect the Big Island’s communities, she said.

Fissure 8 is one of 22 around Kilauea that have destroyed over 1,000 structures and forced 2,000 people to evacuate. They are what make this volcanic eruption a rare event, Ball said.

“They’re common for Kilauea on a geologic time scale, but in a human time scale it’s sort of a career event,” she said.

Meanwhile, the summit is erupting almost every day with steam or ash, said Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for the County of Hawaii, where Kilauea is located.

Scientists had thought the steam explosions resulted from lava at the summit dropping down the volcano’s throat into groundwater. This was based on Kilauea’s 1924 eruption, to which the current one is most often compared.

Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.
Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago. Pixabay

But the explosions this time have released lots of sulfur dioxide gas, which means magma is involved, said Michael Poland, scientist-in-charge at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, one of many volcanologists seconded to Kilauea.

“So we have already made a conceptual leap, leading us to believe it was different from what we had understood,” he said.

Poland and other scientists pulled equipment and archives out of the abandoned observatory at the volcano summit after hundreds of small eruption-induced quakes damaged the structure, and have decamped to the University of Hawaii in Hilo on the Big Island.

The archives included photos, seismic records and samples, some 100 or more years old, Poland said. “These materials are invaluable to someone who says, ‘I have this new idea, and I want to test it using past data.'”

Now the second longest Kilauea eruption on record, surpassed only by one in 1955, this eruption offers far better research opportunities than previous events, Ball said.

Also read: Earthquake Then Volcano, There is No Relief For the Hawaii Residents

“We’ve got much better instruments and we’ve got longer to collect the data,” she said, (VOA)