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Report on Kilauea (United States) — February 1998


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 23, no. 2 (February 1998)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Kilauea (United States) Steady, low activity during February

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1998. Report on Kilauea (United States) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 23:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199802-332010


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 4 February-5 March, the Pu`u `O`o eruption returned to steady-state activity after a brief magma surge and two seismic swarms in January (BGVN 22:12 and 23:01). Seismicity was low and little inflation or deflation was detected at Kilauea's summit. Magma moved through shallow conduits towards the E rift zone without disturbing the ground surface.

The Pu`u `O`o vent area remained relatively unchanged in appearance during February. Fumes issued from cracks in the cone and surrounding area. Profuse fumes from new cracks near the N rim obscured the views of remote surveillance cameras and observers on helicopter overflights.

Lava continued to travel in tubes from the Pu`u `O`o vents to the ocean; however, during 4-24 February surface lava flows were sparse. Every 4-5 days a small flow issued from the lava tubes across the coastal plain. Most of the surface flows were near the Waha`ula ocean entry. At Kamokuna, lava continued to form a low shelf or bench at the foot of a 10-15 m cliff bordering the ocean. A bench collapse at the Kamokuna coastal entry occurred between 16 and 19 February. The collapse destroyed 4 hectares of land that had formed since the most recent collapse on 15 January (BGVN 22:12). The lava supply to the coastal tube system was interrupted briefly on 21 February, causing the steam plumes at the sea entry to dwindle for most of the day.

Kilauea is one of five coalescing volcanoes that comprise the island of Hawaii. Historically its eruptions originated primarily from the summit caldera or along one of the lengthy E and SW rift zones that extend from the summit caldera to the sea. This latest Kilauea eruption began in January 1983 along the E rift zone. The eruption's early phases, or episodes, occurred along a portion of the rift zone that extends from Napau Crater on the uprift end to ~8 km E on the downrift end. Activity eventually centered on what was later named Pu`u `O`o. More than 223 hectares of new land have been added to the island and local communities have suffered more than $100 million in damages since the beginning of the eruption.

Geological Summary. 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: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), U.S. Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/); Ken Rubin and Mike Garcia, Hawaii Center for Volcanology, University of Hawaii, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, 2525 Correa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822 USA (URL: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/hcv.html).