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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 15 July-21 July 2009

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 July-21 July 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 July-21 July 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (15 July-21 July 2009)


Kilauea

United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


During 15-20 July, HVO reported that lava flowed SE from underneath Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex through a lava tube system, reaching the Waikupanaha and Kupapa'u ocean entries. Thermal anomalies detected in satellite images and visual observations revealed active surface flows at several locations on the pali, and on the TEB flow field. A structure in the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision was destroyed on 16 July. Explosions from the Waikupanaha ocean entry were reported on 17 July. Lava was not seen entering the ocean on 21 July.

The vent in Halema'uma'u crater continued to produce a diffuse white plume that drifted mainly SW. No lava or incandescence from the crater had been seen since a "deflation-inflation" event on 4 July. Small amounts of ash-sized "rock dust" were retrieved from collection bins placed near the plume during the reporting period. The sulfur dioxide emission rate at the summit remained elevated; measurements were 400 and 1,100 tonnes per day on 17 and 20 July, respectively. The 2003-2007 average rate was 140 tonnes per day.

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)