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Report on Kilauea (United States) — April 1983

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 8, no. 4 (April 1983)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Lava effusion stops; low level harmonic tremor, local incandescence, and extension continue

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1983. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 8:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198304-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The third major episode of the E rift eruption ended at 0247 on 9 April. The initial activity was at a vent that erupted 28-30 March, producing an aa flow that extended nearly 5 km SE along the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park boundary. A vent about 2 km to the ENE in the same location as the source of the lava flow that entered the Royal Gardens subdivision during episode 2 erupted steadily from 29 March-9 April. Marked by two fountains that were the sources of flows that exited N and S, the vent was the locus of all April lava production. These fountains, and in particular the steadily active and more prominent N fountain that was commonly 100 m high and at times estimated to be 300 m high, were the source of tephra for construction of an 80-m-high cinder cone.

"From 29 March to the end of the eruption, a flow composed of aa locally more that 12 m thick advanced slowly about 3 km NE to the vicinity of Kalalua. Another flow moved SE between earlier flows of 7 January and 27 February-4 March. Lava production at the S fountain changed from sporadic to steady on 4 April and at least 3 lava flows were fed in succession during the remainder of episode 3. These flows were approximately 3.0, 1.5, and 7.2 km long. The advance of each of the first two apparently stopped when the lava stream feeding it was diverted to form the next. The fronts of these aa flows advanced at average rates of approximately 100 m/hour and at times faster than 200 m/hour through gently sloping rain forests. The last and longest of the 3 flows began its advance on 6 April. It entered Royal Gardens subdivision on 8 April and destroyed 6 structures before the eruption stopped early on 9 April. Near the end of the eruption the flow front reached a velocity of 6 m/minute as the narrow and elongate terminus, centered on a subdivision street, advanced down a steep slope. Decemberelerating advance of the flow front continued through at least 11 April.

"January-April lava covered about 15 km2, approximately double the 7 km2 that had been covered by the end of episode 2 on 4 March (figure 17). As a preliminary estimate, a minimum of 50 x 106 m3 of lava had been extruded since eruptive activity began on 3 January. The most recent basalt is megascopically identical to the earlier lava. It is slightly porphyritic with scattered small phenocrysts of plagioclase and olivine. This, as well as continued relatively low lava temperatures (1,112-1,129°C) and unchanged composition of eruptive gases, implied that stored E rift magma had remained as the source for all January-April 1983 lava.

"The summit (Uwekahuna) water tube tiltmeter recorded nearly 30 µrad of decreasing tilt related to subsidence during the third episode of the eruption (figure 18). Since the beginning of intrusive/eruptive activity on 2 January, the cumulative tilt decrease was nearly 200 µrad, suggesting a net volume loss in the summit area of at least 80 x 106 m3. Harmonic tremor decreased significantly when lava fountaining stopped. As of 10 May, tremor continued at a very low level in the general area of the recently active vents.

"Although hot gases of magmatic origin were becoming progressively less concentrated and more oxidized, they continued to be emitted from the recently active part of the fissure system. Local but decreasing incandescence also continued. These observations combined with the observations of persistent low tremor and minor extension across the fissure system (10 mm of extension had occurred by 29 April on a survey line established 8 days earlier) suggested that the feeder system was still active and renewal of eruptive activity was possible."

Geologic Background. Kilauea, which overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano, has been Hawaii's most active volcano during historical time. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation extending back to only 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that were interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity that lasted until 1924 at Halemaumau crater, within the summit caldera. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and SW rift zones, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. A long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.

Information Contacts: E. Wolfe, A. Okamura, R. Koyanagi, and S. Brantley, HVO; UPI.