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Hawaii panel begins process of naming Big Island lava cone

HILO, Hawaii — The Hawaii Board of Geographic Names has begun taking recommendations to name the Big Island’s new 60-foot (18-meter) lava cone.

The state board is planning to take suggestions from the public and Hawaiian cultural practitioners to find a moniker for fissure 8, which formed during the Kilauea volcano eruption that started in May, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Wednesday.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory designated the new landmark as fissure 8 because it was the eighth of 24 fissures to open during the eruption.

A Hawaii County resolution that passed earlier this year calls for the state board to find a name by consulting with community members “who have direct traditional, cultural and familial ties to the district of Puna.”

This is the first time the board has been tasked with naming a new landform, said Leo Asuncion, director of the state Office of Planning.

“If it appears as though there’s no process in place for this, it’s because we’ve never done this before,” Asuncion said.

The original purpose of the board was to clarify spellings on official documents, but it has granted Hawaiian names to landmarks that were previously recognized with only Western names, Asuncion said. That process involved examining Hawaiian cultural records to find past names associated with the landmarks.

The board is planning to host a meeting in Pahoa next year to collect the community’s opinions on suggested names and take additional recommendations.

The board hopes to select a name by the end of next summer, Asuncion said. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names must then approve it.

The board discourages names that are non-Hawaiian and names that are too long, commemorate living people or uses hyphens or apostrophes, according its guidelines.

Applications for submitting name suggestions are on the state Office of Planning website .

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

The Associated Press