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Report on Kilauea (United States) — February 1995

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 2 (February 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Kilauea (United States) Lava flows on coastal plain; four active ocean entry points

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Kilauea (United States) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199502-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Both the Lae`apuki and Kamoamoa lava flows had many breakouts on the coastal plain during February, and several aa and pahoehoe flows were observed on the Pulama pali flow field (figure 96). Poor weather conditions and thick fume clouds obscured the Pu`u `O`o lava pond during the first half of February, but it was very active and 75 m below the crater rim on 24 February.

On 2 February, lava that broke out of the Kamoamoa tube system at ~600 m elevation fed flows that burned forest and cascaded down Pulama pali. This fast-moving pahoehoe flow reached Paliuli on the 14th, 700 m W of the Lae`apuki flow, and headed for the Chain of Craters Road, burning grasslands and setting off methane explosions. The flow front stagnated within 150 m of the road on 27 February. Lava broke out of the tube again on 10 February at ~615 m elevation and formed a channelized aa flow 1 km W of the main flow field that reached the base of Pulama pali by the 13th. In the second half of February the Lae`apuki flow had several breakouts between Paliuli and the ocean that spread W, covering new land and starting brush fires and methane explosions.

Lava flows were active at four ocean entries during the month (figure 96). Lava continued to enter the ocean across a wide front on the Kamoamoa flow, and built benches into the ocean. Explosions following a small bench collapse at the W Kamoamoa entry spread spatter 30-40 m inland of the sea cliff. A lava flow also advanced to the E edge of the Kamoamoa flow field and on 10 February entered the ocean within a few hundred meters of the Kupaianaha flow (Kamokuna entry). This entry then built a large bench that merged with Kupaianaha flows.

Low-amplitude tremor dominated the east rift zone throughout the first half of February. The number of microearthquakes was low beneath the summit and rift zones except for a slight pickup in LPC-C activity (5-13 km depth, 1-5 Hz) on 10-11 February. A series of three small earthquakes in the lower east rift on 10 February (M 2-2.5) originated from a shallow source near Puulena Crater, E of the Leilani Estates subdivision; a few residents felt the events. Tremor amplitudes in the second half of February were slightly higher at a fairly constant level 3x background, interrupted by a few bursts of higher-amplitude tremor. Activity beneath the summit and rift zones was low except for a steady swarm of LPC-C events. During 24-27 February, intermediate, long-period microearthquake counts were high, averaging nearly 200 events on 26-27 February.

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.