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Erosion gradually shrinking iconic Diamond Head profile

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Question: The profile of Diamond Head, our premier landmark, seems to be eroding. Is it my imagination or my eyesight? If it is eroding, can anything be done?

Answer: You have good eyesight.

"Given the erodable nature of the ‘tuff’ that makes up Diamond Head, it is very likely that Diamond Head is continuing to decrease in height," said Yara Lamadrid-Rose, coordinator of Diamond Head State Monument.

The tuff is mostly ash (from the eruption about 300,000 years ago that resulted in the Diamond Head crater) cemented with calcite, she said.

Erosion is a natural process that occurs every day, one that has given us the Diamond Head profile we see today, she said.

How serious is it today? It depends on the location.

Lamadrid-Rose said she had personally observed that certain parts of the trail leading to the summit had eroded about 2 feet between 1998 and 2008. One area with a noticeable rate of erosion continues to be the landing before the last set of stairs leading to the summit.

"In this high-traffic part of the trail, the tuff is exposed along the rim and the constant foot traffic loosens (it), then the wind blows away the material, hastening the erosion," Lamadrid-Rose said.

To address erosion, the Department of Land and Natural Resources has planned two major projects:

» The Interior Trail Improvement Project, scheduled to begin later this year, will address areas along the summit trail that are being undermined or significantly eroded; repair the pedestrian tunnel; and work on preventing rockfalls.

» The Loop Trail Development and Ledge Trail Improvement Project, scheduled for next year, aims to stabilize the "very eroded" and narrow ledge area, where hikers exit the Fire Control Station to the bottom of the summit stairs.

"A new loop trail will link the lookout to the left of the pedestrian tunnel to the bottom of the summit stairs, helping to alleviate some of the foot traffic congestion," Lamadrid-Rose said.

Additionally, Phase II of the Rockfall Mitigation Project is scheduled to begin next year.

However, "Rockfall mitigation addresses the hazards of falling rocks, not erosion prevention," Lamadrid-Rose said.

Hikers are asked to stay on designated trails not only to minimize safety risks, but reduce damage to natural resources as well.

"In the case of Diamond Head’s fragile tuff, I always tell visitors, ‘Tuff is not so tough,’" Lamadrid-Rose said.

Question: Is there an advocacy group for homeowners associations? The homeowners in our development are concerned about the direction our board has been taking. We have contacted attorneys and have tried the voting process, to no avail.

Answer: It’s not necessarily an advocacy group, but you can contact the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Real Estate Branch for information.

Call 586-2643 and ask to speak to a condominium specialist, or go to hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl/boards/real.

 

MAHALO

To whomever mailed back my prescription sunglasses, which fell off the trunk of my car the night of Aug. 3 at Ala Moana Park. I’d gladly pay the postage (at least), but sadly you didn’t put a return address. I had a mailing label on my cleaning cloth, and that is how they were returned. I would have done this for you, but thanks for doing this for me as well. — Kathy Kane

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

 

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