is a Volcano
on the island of Hawaii
. Standing 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii
. However, much of the mountain is under water. Mauna Kea is about a million years old, and has passed the most active shield stage
of life hundreds of thousands of years ago. In its current post-shield
state, its lava is more viscous
, resulting in a steeper profile. Late volcanism
has also given it a much rougher appearance than its neighboring volcanoes; contributing factors include the construction of cinder cones
, the decentralization of its rift zones
, the glaciation
on its peak, and the weathering effects of the prevailing trade winds
. Mauna Kea last erupted 4,000 to 6,000 years ago.
In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred, and Mauna Kea is the most sacred of all. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking tribal chiefs to visit its peak. Ancient Hawaiians living on the slopes of Mauna Kea relied on its extensive forests for food, and quarried the dense volcano-glacial basalts on its flanks for tool production. When Europeans arrived in the late 18th century, settlers introduced cattle, sheep and game animals, many of which became feral and began to damage the mountain's ecology. Mauna Kea can be ecologically divided into three sections: an alpine climate at its summit, a Sophora chrysophylla–Myoporum sandwicense (or māmane–naio) forest on its flanks, and an Acacia koa–Metrosideros polymorpha (or koa–ʻōhiʻa) forest, now mostly cleared by the former sugar industry, at its base. In recent years, concern over the vulnerability of the native species has led to court cases that have forced the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to eradicate all feral species on the mountain.