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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 3 September-9 September 2008

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 September-9 September 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, 3 September-9 September 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (3 September-9 September 2008)


Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


HVO reported that during 3-9 September, lava flowed SE through a lava tube system from underneath Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex, reaching the Waikupanaha ocean entry and one further to the E. On 5 September, geologists saw multiple surface flows during an aerial observation: four on the coastal plain, and a large 'a'a flow and a small pahoehoe flow in the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision.

The vent in Halema'uma'u crater continued to produce a predominantly white plume with minor ash content that drifted mainly SW. The plume was occasionally tinged brown in association with small local earthquakes. Weak night-time incandescence was intermittently seen at the base of the plume, and rock impact sounds were heard in the vicinity of the crater. The sample collection bin contained tephra, Pele's hair, Pele's tears, and a variously shaped glass fragments. On 5 September, scientists saw the surface of a sloshing lava lake, 50 m in diameter, about 100 m below the vent rim while hovering over the vent in a helicopter. A second view revealed a roiling pond with multiple bursting bubbles that changed into a central upwelling circulation pattern. The level of the lake dropped slightly before the cycle restarted.

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.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)