Report on Kilauea (United States) — 25 April-1 May 2018

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 April-1 May 2018
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2018. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 April-1 May 2018. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (25 April-1 May 2018)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 25 April-1 May HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook crater. The lake level was high enough to produce lava flows onto the Halema'uma'u crater floor through 27 April, but afterwards fell to about 15-16 m below the new elevated rim. The lake level rose again, to just below the rim of the Overlook crater vent. Since 21 April about 2/3 of the crater floor had been covered by new lava flows.

Episode 61g lava flows were active above Pulama pali, within 2 km of the active vent. A marked increase in seismicity and ground deformation at Pu'u 'O'o Crater was detected just after 1400 on 30 April, following weeks of uplift and increasing lava levels within the cone. Within a few minutes a webcam on the crater rim recorded the first of two crater floor collapses; the second collapse began at 1520 and lasted about an hour. Thought poor weather conditions inhibited views at times, a webcam recorded what were likely small explosions from the W side of the crater as the floor collapsed. At 1800 seismicity remained elevated, though ground deformation had significantly slowed. A large amount of red ash was produced from the collapses, and deposited around the crater as well as in areas up-rift as far as Mauna Ulu.

Following the collapses of Pu'u 'O'o’s crater floor, seismicity and deformation increased along a large section of the East Rift Zone, in an area 9-16 km down-rift (with seismicity occurring as far E as highway 130), indicating an intrusion of magma. By 0830 on 1 May activity had significantly decreased. During an overflight that day a new, nearly continuous, 1-km-long crack was found on the W (up-rift) side of Pu'u 'O'o. The crack was steaming, and aligned in a segment with small pads of newly-erupted lava and spatter. Thermal images of Pu'u 'O'o Crater suggested that smaller drops of the crater floor likely continued on 1 May.

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)