Fonualei

Photo of this volcano
  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 18.02°S
  • 174.325°W

  • 180 m
    590 ft

  • 243100
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Weekly Report: 3 October-9 October 2001 Citation IconCite this Report


The Laboratoire de Géophysique reported that explosive volcanic activity may have occurred at Fonualei volcano during late September. On 27, 28, and 30 September numerous short T waves were received by the French Polynesian Seismic Network. The preliminary location of the seismicity was determined to be near the Tonga archipelago at 18.18°S (well constrained) and 174°W (not as well constrained). The hydro-acoustic activity was interpreted to be volcanic and explosive and could not be related to seismic activity at the Tonga Trench. According to the Laboratoire de Géophysique, the hydro-acoustic source could be near Fonualei volcano.

Source: Laboratoire de Géophysique


Most Recent Bulletin Report: November 2001 (BGVN 26:11) Citation IconCite this Report


Typical steam emissions observed in August 2000

In February 1974 a ship's captain reported that Fonualei was "emitting small quantities of steam, foam, and rocks all around the crater" (CSLP Card 1802). Large fluctuations in fumarolic activity were observed by geologists in July 1979 (SEAN 04:12).

On 19 August 2000, Jeff and Raine Williams, aboard the S/Y Gryphon, passed Fonualei enroute from Tonga to Wallis Island. They noted that the lower part of the island was covered with lush tropical vegetation, but the upper parts were scarred brown and gray, and steam was venting from the top of the island. Along the coast were rugged volcanic cliffs and black sand beaches.

[Sections about seismicity and pumice rafts have been moved. Later investigations showed that they probably originated from an unnamed submarine volcano in the Tonga Islands.]

Information Contacts: Jeff and Raine Williams, P.O. Box 729, Funkstown, MD 21734, USA (Email: j40@attglobal.net, URL: http://pws.prserv.net/j40/).

Weekly Reports - Index


2001: October


3 October-9 October 2001 Citation IconCite this Report


The Laboratoire de Géophysique reported that explosive volcanic activity may have occurred at Fonualei volcano during late September. On 27, 28, and 30 September numerous short T waves were received by the French Polynesian Seismic Network. The preliminary location of the seismicity was determined to be near the Tonga archipelago at 18.18°S (well constrained) and 174°W (not as well constrained). The hydro-acoustic activity was interpreted to be volcanic and explosive and could not be related to seismic activity at the Tonga Trench. According to the Laboratoire de Géophysique, the hydro-acoustic source could be near Fonualei volcano.

Source: Laboratoire de Géophysique


Bulletin Reports - Index


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

02/1974 (CSLP 25-74) Reported emission of steam, foam, and rocks

07/1979 (SEAN 04:07) Steam emissions observed

12/1979 (SEAN 04:12) Fumarolic activity noted during July

11/2001 (BGVN 26:11) Typical steam emissions observed in August 2000




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


February 1974 (CSLP 25-74)


Reported emission of steam, foam, and rocks

Card 1802 (21 February 1974) Reported emission of steam, foam, and rocks

Captain J. Jenkins of the S.S. Union South Pacific reported by radio to Nuku`Alofa, Tonga, the following observation: "Fonualei Island, Tonga, position 18°01' S, 174°19' W (18.02°S, 174.32°W) was emitting small quantities of steam, foam, and rocks all around the crater at 1900 GMT, 15 February 1974."

Tom Simkin indicates that this activity could be a normal geothermal process, but the fact that rocks were being thrown out suggests that the activity is probably significant.

Information Contacts: J. Jenkins, S.S. Union South Pacific, Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand; T. Simkin, Smithsonian Institution.


July 1979 (SEAN 04:07) Citation IconCite this Report


Steam emissions observed

Geologists aboard the RV Bulikula inspected the volcanoes along the Tonga Arc between 3 and 21 July. . . . Fonualei . . . was emitting steam when viewed . . . in mid-July.

Information Contacts: R. Richmond, Mineral Resources Dept., Fiji.


December 1979 (SEAN 04:12) Citation IconCite this Report


Fumarolic activity noted during July

Most of the reported eruption sites were investigated during the 11-18 July cruise of the Fijian research vessel RV Bulikula.... Large fluctuations in the intensity of fumarolic activity were observed at both Fonualei and Tofua.

Information Contacts: D. Woodhall and R. Richmond, Mineral Resources Dept., Fiji; D. Tuni, Ministry of Natural Resources, Solomon Islands.


November 2001 (BGVN 26:11) Citation IconCite this Report


Typical steam emissions observed in August 2000

In February 1974 a ship's captain reported that Fonualei was "emitting small quantities of steam, foam, and rocks all around the crater" (CSLP Card 1802). Large fluctuations in fumarolic activity were observed by geologists in July 1979 (SEAN 04:12).

On 19 August 2000, Jeff and Raine Williams, aboard the S/Y Gryphon, passed Fonualei enroute from Tonga to Wallis Island. They noted that the lower part of the island was covered with lush tropical vegetation, but the upper parts were scarred brown and gray, and steam was venting from the top of the island. Along the coast were rugged volcanic cliffs and black sand beaches.

[Sections about seismicity and pumice rafts have been moved. Later investigations showed that they probably originated from an unnamed submarine volcano in the Tonga Islands.]

Information Contacts: Jeff and Raine Williams, P.O. Box 729, Funkstown, MD 21734, USA (Email: j40@attglobal.net, URL: http://pws.prserv.net/j40/).

Eruptive History


Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1974 Feb 16 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 1  
1957 Jun 16 ± 15 days Unknown Confirmed   Historical Observations
1951 Aug 21 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations North-central part of the island
1939 Jun Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations Summit, west and SE sides
1906 Mar Unknown Confirmed   Historical Observations
1846 Jun 11 (?) 1846 Oct 10 (in or after) Confirmed 4 Historical Observations
1791 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1780 (in or before) ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain    

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.

Photo Gallery


Seen from the NE, Fonualei volcano has an upturned saucer profile. The small, less than 2-km-wide island of Fonualei contains a fumarolically active crater, which is breached to the SW with a fresh lava flow extending to the sea and forming a rugged shoreline. Blocky lava flows from a central pyroclastic cone have reached the sea through notches in the rim of a small caldera. Eruptions at Fonualei have been recorded since 1791, with the two largest taking place in October 1846 and July 1847.

Photo by Paul Taylor (published in Taylor and Ewart, 1997).
See title for photo information.

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


The following 42 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 111548-1 Unidentified
NMNH 111548-10 Dacite
NMNH 111548-11 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-12 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-13 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-14 Pumice
NMNH 111548-15 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-16 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-17 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-18 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-19 Unidentified
NMNH 111548-2 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-20 Dacite with anorthite (var. bytownite) and hypersthene
NMNH 111548-21 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-22 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-23 Unidentified
NMNH 111548-24 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-24A Volcanic
NMNH 111548-25 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-26 Dacite
NMNH 111548-27 Dacite
NMNH 111548-28 Andesite
NMNH 111548-29 Andesite
NMNH 111548-3 Unidentified
NMNH 111548-30 Dacite
NMNH 111548-31 Dacite
NMNH 111548-32 Dacite
NMNH 111548-33 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-34 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-35 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-36 Volcanic
NMNH 111548-36A Andesite
NMNH 111548-37 Dacite
NMNH 111548-37A Andesite
NMNH 111548-38 Pumice
NMNH 111548-39 Bomb
NMNH 111548-39 Dacite
NMNH 111548-4 Dacite
NMNH 111548-40 Dacite
NMNH 111548-41 Dacite
NMNH 111548-42 Bomb
NMNH 111548-5 Dacite

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