The accumulation of total carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in soils, available soil nutrients, and foliar nutrients in the native dominant Metrosideros polymorpha were determined across a wide elevational range on 9 lava flows on Mauna Loa, Hawai'i. The flows included a young (<140 y) and an old (>2800 y) a??a?? (rough surface texture) and pa??hoehoe (smooth) flow on the wet east and dry northwest side of the mountain. Soil element pools and nutrient availability increased with flow age independent of climate. The dry sites accumulated organic matter and nutrients more slowly than comparable wet sites, but relative nutrient availability to plants (as indicated by soil assays and foliar nutrients) was greater in the dry sites. Accumulation of soil organic matter and nutrients occurred most rapidly in lowerelevation sites on the young flows, but the largest accumulations occurred at higher elevations on old flows. The range of sites sampled represents a complete and largely independent matrix of major factors governing ecosystem structure and function. ?? 1992 Springer-Verlag.