Logo link to homepage

Report on Mauna Loa (United States) — 6 October-12 October 2004

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 October-12 October 2004
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Mauna Loa (United States). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 6 October-12 October 2004. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (6 October-12 October 2004)


Mauna Loa

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


According to HVO, since early July 2004 an increased number of earthquakes had been recorded from beneath Mauna Loa. From week to week, the numbers fluctuated but remained well above the norm. Through September, more than 580 earthquakes were centered beneath Mauna Loa's summit caldera and the adjacent part of the southwest rift zone. Most of these earthquakes were quite deep, from 35 to 50 km below the ground surface and small, less than M 3. They were "long-period" (LP) earthquakes, which means that their signals gradually rise out of the background rather than appearing abruptly. Such a concentrated number of deep LP earthquakes from this part of Mauna Loa is unprecedented, at least in the modern earthquake record dating back to the 1960s. During about 4-11 October, however, only 23 earthquakes were located under the summit.

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.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)