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Report on Kilauea (United States) — August 1992

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 8 (August 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Continued East-rift lava extrusion interrupted by brief pauses

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199208-332010.

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 in August with one 4-day pause around mid-month and another that began 29 August. The surface of the active lava lake in Pu`u `O`o Crater fluctuated between 36 and 75 m below the crater rim. During eruptive pauses at the E-51 vent on the outer W flank of Pu`u `O`o, the lake slowly dropped to more than 60 m below the rim, but overflowed onto the floor of the crater (36 m below the rim) at the onset of renewed activity.

Flows began to emerge from the tube system after activity resumed in late July, advancing S to the edge of the flow field and starting forest fires on 4 August. There the flows split, with one lobe staying on top of the 1986 aa flow and two others advancing downslope W of the 1986 flow (figure 85), reaching 658 m (2,160 ft) elevation before the eruption paused on 11 August. Tremor levels began to gradually decline, from 2x background at about 1600 on 11 August to background level by 13 August. Shallow, long-period (LPC-B, 1-3 Hz) counts were high 4-12 August, with a maximum of 345 events per day.

The level of the Pu`u `O`o lava lake began rising the morning of 15 August, stabilizing ~2 hours before the eruption resumed. At about 1300, slow-moving pahoehoe flows broke out ~1 km S of the episode-51 shield and headed S. Tremor levels began increasing again at about 1800, reaching 2x background. Lava advanced to ~664 m (2,180 ft) elevation by 27 August, reaching the edge of the flow field and burning trees SE of the vent. The eruption paused on 29 August as tremor amplitude again decreased to background levels between 0600 and 1100.

There have been only one or two August observations of lava on the floor of the E-51 pond, active from March until it drained in July. The pond is apparently being completely bypassed, with lava now directly feeding tubes in the S flank of the E-51 shield. Occasional glimpses of vent activity have been possible through skylights that opened at the base of some of the spatter cones.

Lava in the Pu`u `O`o lake was 51 m below the crater rim on 1 September. Eruption tremor began to build gradually at 2100 that day, reaching a steady 2x background by 0100 the next morning. Shallow, long-period (LPC-A, 3-5 Hz) and upper East rift microshock counts were high 1-2 September. The eruption resumed on 2 September with lava reoccupying the tubes to the S and breaking out S of the E-51 shield. Flows headed S and E, reaching the treeline on 6 September and 661 m (2170 feet) elevation on 8 September. The seismic station (STC) nearest Pu`u `O`o detected an increase in tremor amplitude to 3x background 3-6 September. Shallow, long-period (LPC-B, 1-3 Hz) events seismicity 7 September at > 140 events, then began gradually decreasing, dropping to just above background by 0400 on 9 September. Flows stagnated when the eruption paused 9-12 September. Shallow, long-period events and upper East rift microshocks were again frequent 11-12 September. Tremor increased to 3x background, starting at 0400 on 12 September, when lava broke out of the tube ~1 km from the vent and formed sluggish, channelized pahoehoe flows.

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.