Mauna Kea

Photo of this volcano
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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 19.82°N
  • 155.47°W

  • 4205 m
    13792 ft

  • 332030
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Mauna Kea.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Mauna Kea.

Index of Monthly Reports

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.

12/2013 (BGVN 38:12) In repose; first report disclosing background conditions and hazards


Contents of Monthly Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.

All times are local (= UTC - 10 hours)

12/2013 (BGVN 38:12) In repose; first report disclosing background conditions and hazards

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Mauna Kea, Hawaii's highest volcano, reaches 4205 m, only 35 m above its neighbor, Mauna Loa. In contrast to Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea lacks a summit caldera and is capped by a profusion of cinder cones and pyroclastic deposits. Mauna Kea's rift zones are less pronounced than on neighboring volcanoes, and the eruption of voluminous, late-stage pyroclastic material has buried much of the early basaltic shield volcano, giving the volcano a steeper and more irregular profile. This transition took place about 250,000 to 200,000 years ago, and much of Mauna Kea, whose Hawaiian name means "White Mountain," was constructed during the Pleistocene. Its age and high altitude make it the only Hawaiian volcano with glacial moraines. A road that reaches a cluster of astronomical observatories on the summit also provides access to seasonal tropical skiing. The latest eruptions at Mauna Kea produced a series of cinder cones and lava flows from vents on the northern and southern flanks during the early to mid Holocene.

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

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2460 BCE ± 100 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) NE flank (Puu Lehu, 3130 m)
2540 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) South rift zone (Puu Kole)
2750 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) NE flank (Puu Kanakaleonui, 2930 m)
3370 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) SE flank (near Hale Pohaku, 2740 m)
3680 BCE ± 200 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) South rift zone (Puu Kalaieha)
5150 BCE ± 150 years Unknown Confirmed   Radiocarbon (uncorrected) North flank (Puu Kole)

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.



Cones
Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Ahumoa Cone 2207 m 19° 49' 0" N 155° 37' 0" W
Haiwahine, Puu Cone 2865 m 19° 46' 0" N 155° 28' 0" W
Hiukau, Puu Cone 2234 m 19° 43' 0" N 155° 26' 0" W
Hookomo, Puu Cone 2403 m 19° 44' 0" N 155° 27' 0" W
Kalaieha, Puu Cone 2141 m 19° 42' 0" N 155° 26' 0" W
Kalepeamoa, Puu Cone 2863 m 19° 45' 0" N 155° 28' 0" W
Kanakaleonui, Puu Cone 2947 m 19° 52' 0" N 155° 23' 0" W
Kole, Puu Cone 2993 m 19° 45' 0" N 155° 25' 0" W
Lehu, Puu Cone 3130 m 19° 52' 30" B 155° 26' 0" W
Loa, Puu Cone 2384 m 19° 46' 0" N 155° 23' 0" W
Loaloa, Puu Cone 2334 m 19° 44' 0" N 155° 26' 0" W
Makanaka, Puu Cone 3784 m 19° 50' 30" N 155° 26' 0" W
Omaokoili Cone 2161 m 19° 43' 0" N 155° 30' 0" W
Poliahu, Puu Cone 4155 m 19° 49' 0" N 155° 29' 0" W
Wekui, Puu Cone 4205 m 19° 49' 0" N 155° 28' 0" W


Craters
Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
South Rift Zone Fissure vent 19° 45' 0" N 155° 27' 0" W
This 1975 photo of the snow-covered summit of 4170-m Mauna Loa volcano from the SW shows the 2.4 x 4.8 km wide Mokuaweoweo caldera in the center, with three circular pit craters in the foreground. South Pit (partially truncating the SW caldera rim), Lua Hohonu, and Hua Hou (foreground), formed by collapse along the upper SW rift zone. Mauna Kea shield volcano rises to a height of 4206 m in the distance.

Photo by Don Peterson (U.S. Geological Survey).
Hawaii's two largest shield volcanoes, Mauna Loa (in the background to the south) and Mauna Kea, have dramatically differing profiles. Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano, has the classic low-angle profile of a shield volcano constructed by repetitive eruptions of thin, overlapping lava flows. Mauna Kea is also a shield volcano formed in the same manner, but its profile has been modified by late-stage explosive eruptions, which constructed a series of cinder cones that cap its summit.

Photo by Don Swanson (U.S. Geological Survey).
The snow-covered summit of Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for White Mountain), seen here from the SW, is capped by a series of cinder cones formed late in the volcano's eruptive history. The bulk of Mauna Kea volcano was constructed during the Pleistocene. Its age and altitude make it the only Hawaiian volcano with glacial moraines. The snow-covered segment of the volcano in this photo roughly corresponds to the limit of the youngest glacial deposits on Mauna Kea, which extend down to about 3500 m.

Photo by Don Swanson (U.S. Geological Survey).
Mauna Kea, Hawaii's highest volcano, rises to 4206 m, slightly above its neighbor, Mauna Loa. This view from the north, at the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, shows the irregular profile of the shield volcano. The strong contrast to the smooth profile of Mauna Loa is a result of late-stage explosive eruptions that produced a series of cinder cones at the summit and flanks of Mauna Kea. The flank cinder cones in the center of the photo were constructed during some of the youngest eruptions of Mauna Kea, about 4500 years ago.

Photo by Richard Fiske, 1967 (Smithsonian Institution).
The symmetrical Goodrich cinder cone has a well-preserved crater. It is one of many late-stage cinder cones capping the summit of Mauna Kea, and is seen here from the the summit of Mauna Kea with Mauna Loa volcano to its NE. Dark-colored, unvegetated lava flows, many of historical age, descend the flanks of Mauna Loa. Virtually the entire Mauna Loa surface seen here consists of lava flows erupted during the past 4000 years.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1987 (Smithsonian Institution).
Mauna Kea volcano, seen here from the north along the broad NE rift zone of Mauna Loa volcano, has an irregular profile because of a cap of late-stage cinder cones and pyroclastic ejecta. Rift zones trending east, west, NE, and south are less prominent than at Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Eruptions have occurred during the latest Pleistocene and Holocene from the south and NE rift zones. Mauna Kea's most recent eruption occurred about 3500 years ago.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1987 (Smithsonian Institution).
Mauna Kea (left) and Mauna Loa (right), both over 4000 m above sea level, are the world's largest active volcanoes, rising nearly 9 km above the sea floor around the island of Hawaii. This aerial view from the NW shows the contrasting morphologies of these two shield volcanoes. In contrast to the smooth profile of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea's early shield volcano morphology is modified by the late-stage products of explosive eruptions.

Photo by Lee Siebert, 1987 (Smithsonian Institution).
Mauna Kea, Hawaii's highest volcano, is seen here from the south at the broad Humuulu Saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The fresh lava flow in the foreground was emplaced during an 1843 eruption that originated on the NE rift zone of Mauna Loa. The flow traveled directly north to the Mauna Kea saddle, where it was deflected to the west. The irregular profile of the unvegetated summit region of Mauna Kea shield volcano is produced by a cap of cinder cones and pyroclastic ejecta that is not present at Mauna Loa.

Photo by Paul Kimberly, 1994 (Smithsonian Institution).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Porter S C, 1973. Stratigraphy and chronology of late Quaternary tephra along the South Rift Zone of Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii. Geol Soc Amer Bull, 84: 1923-1940.

Robinson J E, Eakins B W, 2006. Calculated volumes of individual shield volcanoes at the young end of the Hawaiian Ridge. J Volc Geotherm Res, 151: 309-317.

Wolfe E W, Wise W S, Dalrymple B, 1997. The geology and petrology of Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii--a study of postshield volcanism. U S Geol Surv Prof Pap, 1557: 1-129.

Volcano Types

Shield
Pyroclastic cone(s)

Tectonic Setting

Intraplate
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Rock Types

Major
Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Trachyandesite / Basaltic trachy-andesite
Trachybasalt / Tephrite Basanite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
126
126
9,950
166,888

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Mauna Kea Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.