Survey of Lava Tubes in the Former Puna Forest Reserve and on Adjacent State of Hawaii Lands

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This study was initiated after members of the Puna community brought to the attention of the Historic Preservation Office that major lava tube systems extended from the Pahoa area into at least portions of the former Puna Forest Reserve. They were concerned that planned geothermal exploration and development could damage these lava tubes which they said contained extensive evidence of past Hawaiian use including fortifications, shrines, platforms and burials. Geothermal development is currently being planned by Campbell Estate and True Geothermal Energy Company in the southern portion of the former Reserve which has been designated by the State of Hawaii ... continued below

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McEldowney, H. & Stone, F.D. October 1, 1991.

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Description

This study was initiated after members of the Puna community brought to the attention of the Historic Preservation Office that major lava tube systems extended from the Pahoa area into at least portions of the former Puna Forest Reserve. They were concerned that planned geothermal exploration and development could damage these lava tubes which they said contained extensive evidence of past Hawaiian use including fortifications, shrines, platforms and burials. Geothermal development is currently being planned by Campbell Estate and True Geothermal Energy Company in the southern portion of the former Reserve which has been designated by the State of Hawaii as one of the three Geothermal Sub-Zones in Puna. To demonstrate these claims, two staff members of the Historic Sites Section were shown examples in a lava tube makai of the Campbell Estate boundary. After reviewing the archaeological and historical reports commissioned for geothermal exploration, it was agreed that if these lava tubes did extend inland and continued to contain archaeological sites or burials then the potential of significant sub-surface sites had not been adequately addressed in the Historic Sites Section review process. Most reports acknowledged the possibility of lava tubes in the area and that they could contain burials, but no tube systems were ever identified or explored during any of the field surveys. These surveys primarily assessed the presence or absence of cultural properties that occur on the surface or as deposits within the soil layer. With the assistance of the Division of Water Resource Management (DWRM), the Historic Sites Section agreed to conduct this survey because those community members who came forward requested that this information be handled by a neutral party. They asked that documentation occur in such a manner that it could be kept as confidential as possible while still providing enough information to protect any sites from damage. The survey had three major aims. The first was to establish whether or not the lava tubes continued into the land now held by Campbell Estate or the Geothermal Sub-Zone. The second was to assess the extent to which any lava tube systems found contained archaeological remains or burials and, if so, to evaluate their general significance. The third was to define, if possible, any patterns in the distribution of the lava tube systems or the archaeological remains within them. Such patterns can allow general predictions to be made about which areas are most likely to have similar tube systems with significant archaeological sites. This is of particular importance in this region where large portions of the former Forest Reserve and the Geothermal Sub-Zone have not been inspected, and conducting extensive surveys is extremely difficult because of dense vegetation, hazardous conditions and poor ground visibility. One of the authors (Stone) has a background in Hawaiian lava tube biology, so we were able to include a preliminary survey of the invertebrate fauna found in these underground ecosystems.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: None
  • DOI: 10.2172/882390 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 882390
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc892484

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • October 1, 1991

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

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  • Dec. 7, 2016, 10:47 p.m.

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McEldowney, H. & Stone, F.D. Survey of Lava Tubes in the Former Puna Forest Reserve and on Adjacent State of Hawaii Lands, report, October 1, 1991; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc892484/: accessed September 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.