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Report on Kilauea (United States) — July 1992

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 7 (July 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Lava flows south from East-rift vents

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199207-332010.

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 . . . was continuous for most of July, pausing for a few days on the 22nd. The lava pond perched next to the E-51 spatter cones drained in early July, and a thick crust formed on its surface. The pond remained inactive for the rest of the month, as lava from the E-51 vent bypassed it through a lava tube to the S. Lava flows emerged from a tube at the base of the E-51 shield, building a sizeable secondary shield there. Flows moving SE entered the forest on 9 July just E of the 1986 flow, advanced along a front 500 m wide (figure 85), and reached the steepest portion of the S-facing fault scarp (pali) on 20 July.

The number of microearthquakes beneath the summit and East rift generally remained low, but 275 shallow, long-period (B-type, 1-3 Hz) events were recorded on 22 July. That day, observers reported a decline in activity at the vent, and the tube system slowly drained. By 23 July, the terminus of the new flow was stagnant.

A gradual increase in tremor amplitude to about twice background level began early on 27 July. Lava returned to the tube system during the day, breaking out at the base of the E-51 shield, where flows ponded before spreading in all directions. On 30 July, more flows emerged from the tube system S of the ponded area and advanced S, reaching the forest in the national park on 3 August.

The lava lake in Pu`u `O`o crater was active throughout July. Its surface fluctuated between 45 and 70 m below the crater rim. Upwelling was constant in the uprift portion of the lava lake, while degassing and spattering was most vigorous on the lake's downrift edge.

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.