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Report on Kilauea (United States) — June 1992

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 6 (June 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Continued east rift lava production

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199206-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava production continued through early July from the E-51 vent . . . (figure 85), but was interrupted by several brief pauses. With each resumption in activity, lava reoccupied tubes on the S flank of the E-51 shield. Flows emerged from the tubes under some pressure, creating small, meter-high dome fountains at their heads. The lava pond at the top of the E-51 shield drained and refilled with changing lava supply, sustaining frequent overflows that did not advance far. Some lava also ponded at the base of the shield before flows advanced S and E. The small lava lake in Pu`u `O`o crater remained active, fluctuating between 38 and 55 m below the crater rim in June. The lake surface rose during pauses in activity at the episode-51 vent and dropped when lava production resumed there. By early July, it had dropped farther, to 65 m below the rim.

Activity resumed on 2 June, after a 3-day pause (17:5), while harmonic tremor began a gradual increase to about twice background levels at 0000. Large flows advanced N along the W flank of Pu`u `O`o cinder cone. These shelly pahoehoe flows formed shallow tubes and stagnated within a few days. The eruption stopped briefly on 5 June, as tremor dropped to near background at 1800, resumed the next day accompanied by a tremor increase at about 0700, and halted again ~24 hours later on the 7th, when lava drained slowly from the pond atop the shield.

Another increase in tremor began early on 9 June, reaching about twice background levels by noon on the 10th. Shallow, long-period microearthquakes (LPC-A, 3-5 Hz) were frequent on 9 June, as were upper east rift events on 9-10 June. Lava started to emerge from the E-51 vent at 1325 on 10 June, re-entering the tube system on the S flank of the E-51 shield. The lava lake in Pu`u `O`o crater had been nearly level with the crater floor when E-51 activity resumed, but had dropped ~9 m by the next day.

A small spatter cone formed 3-11 June over a weak point in the tube on the N flank of the E-51 shield. This tube had fed numerous aa ooze-outs that spread out around the shield's N flank in past months. On 13 June, an aa flow was active on the shield's N flank, appearing to originate from the new spatter cone.

Lava production stopped again on 16 June, the pond at the top of the shield drained, and flows slowed their advance. The eruption restarted during the morning of 21 June, continuing through the end of the month. Pahoehoe flows extended N and SE from the vent. Through 25 June, the shield's pond was full and intermittently overflowing, but by 1 July it had drained to ~15 m depth with a solid crust at the bottom. However, lava continued to ooze into the S-flank tube system and to break out at the base of the shield. Tremor amplitudes gradually declined to near background by 2000 on 29 June, and remained at low levels into early July.

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.

Information Contacts: T. Mattox and P. Okubo, HVO.