Mauna Kea or the White Mountain is an inactive shield volcano of the Hawaiian Islands, situated 300 km away from Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It is the Pacific Basin’s highest point and is ranked as the highest island-mountain of the world. The last eruption of Mauna Kea took place about 4,000 to 6,000 years ago and most part of the mountain is under water and usually the height is calculated from its oceanic base.
Mauna Kea lies about 9,750 meters above the ocean floor and rises at an elevation of 4,205 meters above sea level. The summit of Mauna Kea is an extensive volcanic landscape and is contains cinder cones on top of the lava plateau. Visitors trek in the lower slopes of Mauna Kea as it forms the popular spot for sightseeing, hunting and bird watching. The area above the slope is more hostile and barren.
Mauna Kea is considered as a unique astronomical observing site because the atmosphere is stable in the summit of the this highest island-mountain is ideal for measuring infrared and other radiation that comes from celestial sources with clear nights. Further, the tropical inversion cloud layer of 600 meters thickness lies much below the summit and helps in isolating the upper atmosphere from the moist lower atmospheric strata keeping the air dry and pollutant free. And this makes Mauna Kea a leading site and the Keck telescope, the largest mirror of the world is placed in the summit of Mauna Kea for ground-based astronomical observations.
Mauna Kea is considered as an ideal place for snowboarding or skiing activities. In winters many people travel to the mountain as the summit is covered with snow and the name White Mountain is gives because of its snowy summit.