Report on Loihi (United States) — March 1990

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 15, no. 3 (March 1990)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Loihi (United States) Strong earthquake swarm, suggesting magma movement

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1990. Report on Loihi (United States). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 15:3. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

18.92°N, 155.27°W; summit elev. -975 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A vigorous earthquake swarm occurred off the S flank of Hawaii 11-19 March 1990 (figure 4). More than 300 events were registered, about 15 of M 3-4, and some of M >4. Seismologists associated many of the events, including the larger ones, with processes at Loihi Seamount. No acoustic signals (T-waves) were reported.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Portion of a seismogram recorded during Loihi's 11 March 1990 earthquake swarm, by a station (AHU) 45 km from the epicentral area. Courtesy of R. Koyanagi.

Further Reference. Malahoff, A., 1987, Geology of the summit of Loihi submarine volcano, in Decker, R.W., Wright, T.L., and Stauffer, P.H., eds., Volcanism in Hawaii: USGS Professional Paper 1350, p. 133-144.

Geologic Background. Loihi seamount, the youngest volcano of the Hawaiian chain, lies about 35 km off the SE coast of the island of Hawaii. Loihi (which is the Hawaiian word for "long") has an elongated morphology dominated by two curving rift zones extending north and south of the summit. The summit region contains a caldera about 3 x 4 km wide and is dotted with numerous lava cones, the highest of which is about 975 m below the sea surface. The summit platform includes two well-defined pit craters, sediment-free glassy lava, and low-temperature hydrothermal venting. An arcuate chain of small cones on the western edge of the summit extends north and south of the pit craters and merges into the crests prominent rift zones. Deep and shallow seismicity indicate a magmatic plumbing system distinct from that of Kilauea. During 1996 a new pit crater was formed at the summit, and lava flows were erupted. Continued volcanism is expected to eventually build a new island; time estimates for the summit to reach the sea surface range from roughly 10,000 to 100,000 years.

Information Contacts: P. Okubo and R. Koyanagi, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.