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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 10 December-16 December 2008


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 December-16 December 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Kilauea (United States) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 December-16 December 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (10 December-16 December 2008)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

HVO reported that during 10-16 December lava flowed SE through a tube system from underneath Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex, reaching the Waikupanaha ocean entry. Incandescence was occasionally seen at the TEB vent, and surface flows were noted on and at the base of the pali, and on the coastal plain. A branch of lava previously seen traveling S towards the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park boundary went about 55 m into the park. On 16 December, a Pu'u 'O'o Crater web camera was hit with a small amount of debris, suggesting a collapse in the crater.

Earthquakes were variously located beneath the caldera, along the SW rift zone, and along the S-flank fault. Beneath Halema'uma'u crater the number of earthquakes on 10 December ranged from 150 to 200, but were too small to be located more precisely (less than M 1.7 and recorded on fewer than four seismometers). The vent in Halema'uma'u crater continued to produce a predominantly white plume that drifted mainly SW and deposited small amounts of tephra. Weak winds caused poor air quality at the summit. Sounds resembling rockfalls were sometimes heard in the vicinity of the crater.

Geological Summary. Kilauea overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano in the island of Hawaii. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation since 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity at Halemaumau crater in the summit caldera until 1924. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1,500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and Southwest rift zones, which extend to the ocean in both directions. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 years old; 70% of the surface is younger than 600 years. The long-term eruption from the East rift zone between 1983 and 2018 produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroyed hundreds of houses, and added new coastline.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)