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Report on Kilauea (United States) — September 1992

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 9 (September 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) New vent opens after M 4.5 earthquake

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199209-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The . . . E-51 vent was intermittently active during September. Flows headed S and E, reaching the edge of the lava field by 6 September and 660 m (2,170 ft) elevation on 8 September. Flows stagnated the following day when the eruption paused. The vent reactivated 12 September when lava broke out of the tube ~1 km from the vent, forming sluggish channelized pahoehoe flows that advanced S from the shield complex, reaching the SW edge of the flow field and slowly burning vegetation in the National Park (figure 85). The eruption paused 27 September and activity at the vent area declined the next day as the E-51 spatter cones stopped glowing, lava in the skylights slowed, and flows stagnated.

The Pu`u `O`o lava lake remained active all month, its surface fluctuating between 70 and 51 m below the crater rim. The level of lava in Pu`u `O`o was low before and during the pauses, rising immediately before renewed activity at the vent. There was steady circulation from the W to the SE edge of the lake.

Tremor increased to 3x background 3-6 September, began a gradual decline on 7 September, the day before the eruption paused, then increased again to 3x background as the eruption resumed on 12 September (17:8). Eruption tremor remained steady until the eruption paused again in late September. Shallow, long-period (1-3 Hz) seismicity peaked at >140 events on 7 September.

Episode 52 (E-52). A M 4.5 earthquake occurred at about 2000 on 2 October [but see 14:10] on the S flank, W of Royal Gardens subdivision, at ~6.5 km depth. An anomalous glow, reported to the Civil Defense authorities soon after the shock, marked a new eruptive fissure on the S flank of Pu`u `O`o and the beginning of E-52. Seismic tremor and summit tilt . . . did not show any significant changes until about 0300 on 3 October, when tremor amplitude recorded near Pu`u `O`o increased dramatically and the summit region began to subside as magma was withdrawn and erupted from the new fissure. By 1000, helicopter pilots reported that a new aa flow had advanced ~3 km and was burning the forest just E of the E-51 lava. The E-51 vents, which had restarted during the late afternoon of 2 October, stopped as the new E-52 vents became active. Late on 3 October, the E-51 vents slowly started up again, and by early the next afternoon the lava output from the E-52 vent had decreased slightly as emission from the E-51 vents increased. Lava from both vents was ponding just S of Pu`u `O`o as of 5 October.

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, M. Mangan, and P. Okubo, HVO.