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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 9 April-15 April 2008

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 April-15 April 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 9 April-15 April 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (9 April-15 April 2008)


Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Based on observations during helicopter overflights, visual observations from HVO and National Park Service (NPS) crews, and web camera views, HVO reported that during 9-15 April lava flow activity from Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex was mostly concentrated at multiple locations of the Waikupanaha and Ki ocean entries. Occasionally, incandescence from a skylight adjacent to the TEB vents and from breakouts along the lava-tube system was noted.

During the reporting period, Kilauea summit earthquakes were located beneath the summit, along the S-flank faults, and along the upper E rift zones. The eruption from the vent in Halema'uma'u Crater continued to produce white ash plumes that drifted mainly SW. During most nights incandescence was seen at the base of the plume. On 10 April, a small explosion from the vent ejected incandescent blocks to the rim of the crater, about 70 m above, and enlarged the vent by 5-10 ms. Seismic tremor was elevated.

Sulfur dioxide emission rates from the summit area have been elevated at 2-4 times background values since early January. The emission rate fluctuated between 575 and 890 tonnes per day during 10-14 April, compared to a background rate of 150-200 tonnes per day. At Pu'u 'O'o crater the emission rate was between 1,760 and 2,750 tonnes during 8-13 April. According to news articles, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closed during 8-9 April due to elevated levels of sulfur dioxide.

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.

Sources: Associated Press, US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)