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Report on Mauna Loa (United States) — July 1991

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 7 (July 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Mauna Loa (United States) Summit earthquake swarm

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Mauna Loa (United States). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199107-332020.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Mauna Loa

United States

19.475°N, 155.608°W; summit elev. 4170 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Surface deformation measurements indicate gradual reinflation of Mauna Loa's summit since its 1984 eruption. Earthquake counts have fluctuated, but have apparently increased since late 1990.

Two bursts of intermediate-depth volcanic tremor, beginning at about 1200 on 13 July, preceded a swarm of long-period earthquakes that continued for ~14 hours. Activity peaked between 2300 on 13 July and 0100 the next morning. As the long-period events gradually declined, shallow microearthquake activity increased, and continued for about 6 hours. All of the events were too small for precise location.

The 13 July activity began ~2 hours before an earthquake swarm under the summit of Kilauea. Seismicity at Mauna Loa has apparently returned to average background levels since mid-July.

Geologic Background. Massive Mauna Loa shield volcano rises almost 9 km above the sea floor to form the world's largest active volcano. Flank eruptions are predominately from the lengthy NE and SW rift zones, and the summit is cut by the Mokuaweoweo caldera, which sits within an older and larger 6 x 8 km caldera. Two of the youngest large debris avalanches documented in Hawaii traveled nearly 100 km from Mauna Loa; the second of the Alika avalanches was emplaced about 105,000 years ago (Moore et al. 1989). Almost 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is covered by lavas less than 4000 years old (Lockwood and Lipman, 1987). During a 750-year eruptive period beginning about 1500 years ago, a series of voluminous overflows from a summit lava lake covered about one fourth of the volcano's surface. The ensuing 750-year period, from shortly after the formation of Mokuaweoweo caldera until the present, saw an additional quarter of the volcano covered with lava flows predominately from summit and NW rift zone vents.

Information Contacts: P. Okubo, HVO.