Kyson Dunn’s Intro Blog


The Big Island is home to one of the world’s active volcanoes, Kilauea which has been erupting near continuously for many years. There are two types of lava that the Hawaiian people have dubbed as Pahoehoe and Aa. Pahoehoe is smooth, shiny, bubbly, and sometimes ropy and Aa is sharp, gnarly, brittle, and akin to a cheesegrater. Do NOT fall on Aa. There are also four other volcanoes found here known as Hualalai, Kohala, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea. Did you know that besides lava you can also find snow on two of the other mountains? Mauna kea which means white mountain is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its base to the peak and Mauna loa, which means long mountain, is the largest shield volcano in the world! The winter months bring in weather systems that eventually drop snow on the tops of these two majestic mountains.

Now to share a little about myself…

Hi, my name is Kyson Dunn. I live in Hawaii and am part native Hawaiian. I was born in a little town known as Hilo which is located on the big island of Hawaii. My hometown is in the Ahupua`a’s (land division) of Kalapana and Kaimu where you will find a slow-paced set of villages scattered here and there. The background is that of lava strewn across a long hill with pockets of trees showing hints of the diverse forest structure that was once present. and the low lands are that of desolation and new land formed when lava passed through the area in 1989. Yes, the lava hit the ocean and created more landmass above sea level.

In 2016 there was an eruption about 6 miles away from me in one direction and in 2018 there was another eruption that happened about 10 miles away in another direction. Always surrounded by lava. For the most part, the lava here is slow-moving so there is time to escape this force of nature. Honestly, you get used to it.

Posing in an a`a field


Through this internship, I will be able to explore places that most people won’t be able to see despite living here their whole lives. I’ll be helping to monitor the spread of a fungal disease that is affecting one of the island’s pioneer tree species known as Ohia. Through data collection of forest inventory/mortality plots, a seedling regeneration study, and a soil survey looking at absence/presence hopefully during my time here we can at least get a hint of how to mitigate and/or help to devise a management plan. This is exciting!

A small ohia tree.
Photo credit: Kyson Dunn
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