Report on Kilauea (United States) — 30 December-5 January 2010
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 30 December-5 January 2010
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, 30 December-5 January 2010. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During 30 December-3 January, HVO reported that lava flowed SE from beneath Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex through a lava tube system, reaching the ocean at Waikupanaha. Lava was not seen entering the ocean on 4 and 5 January. Thermal anomalies detected by satellite and occasional visual observations revealed active lava flows on the pali. Incandescence was seen almost daily coming from Pu'u 'O'o crater. During an overflight of Pu'u 'O'o crater on 29 December, geologists saw that a part of the high point of the W rim had collapsed, and a new gas vent had opened up at base of the N wall.
The vent in Halema'uma'u crater continued to produce a plume that drifted NE and NW, dropping small amounts of ash, and occasionally fresh spatter, downwind. Incandescence originated from an active and sometimes sloshing lava surface within an opening on the deep floor of the vent cavity.
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.