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Report on Kilauea (United States) — March 2002


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 27, no. 3 (March 2002)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Kilauea (United States) Lava stops entering sea during January, tilting in late March-April 2002

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2002. Report on Kilauea (United States) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 27:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200203-332010


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

This report discusses activity at Kilauea during mid-January through mid-April 2002. The flow of lava into the ocean in September (BGVN 26:12) at the Kamoamoa entry and, to a lesser extent, at the E Kupapa'u entry, terminated by the end of January. During February through mid-March lava flowed on the surface at elevations above or on the Pulama Pali slope and along the Kamoamoa lava tube system. Volcanic tremor occurred at moderate levels, and long-period (LP) earthquakes were registered below the caldera. In mid-March incandescence was visible from Pu`u `O`o crater. Incoming lava flooded the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater and excess lava flowed through lava tubes down the Pulama Pali slope to the coastal plain. Heightened activity continued and in early April a series of deflation and inflation events occurred. LP earthquakes increased and on 6 April observations of the crater lake in Pu`u `O`o crater revealed that the lava had risen to 17 m below the E rim.

Geophysical activity. Tiltmeters across the volcano showed no significant deformation until mid-March, although an M 4.1 earthquake had occurred at 0118 on 18 January. The earthquake was located 4 km SSE of the Pu`u `O`o crater at a depth of 9.1 km. During the following several days volcanic tremor remained moderate to strong at Pu`u `O`o. The swarm of long-period (LP) earthquakes at the summit continued through March. Just after 0300 on 27 March a small earthquake beneath the caldera triggered more than 30 minutes of increased tremor and small earthquakes.

Sharp deflation at Pu`u `O`o on 28 March accompanied a change in eruptive activity at the cone. On 31 March volcanic tremor was low-to-moderate at Pu`u `O`o and the continuing weak tremor below the caldera was broken occasionally by small LP earthquakes. Associated tilt across the volcano was flat or only changed slightly.

During 4-6 April, a series of deflation and inflation events occurred. In terms of tilt, at ~2100 on 4 April, Kilauea's summit deflated (~1.7 µrad); 30 minutes later Pu`u `O`o followed (~9 µrad). This was reversed at 1600 on 5 April when rapid inflation began at the summit and ~12 minutes later at Pu`u `O`o. At 1700 inflation ended at the summit, and it abruptly deflated, as did Pu`u `O`o at 1800. Subsequently, tilt at Pu`u `O`o oscillated three times between rapid deflation and slower inflation. The tilt temporarily decreased, but at 0508 on 6 April another interval of 4.5 oscillations occurred followed by resumed tilt and slow, bumpy inflation. During this turbulent period LP earthquakes increased at the summit while tremor remained steady at Pu`u `O`o. By 7 April tilt was relatively steady, volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o was moderate, and tremor at the summit was low to moderate.

Lava flows. During mid-January surface lava traveled along the upper portion of the flow field above the Pulama pali slope and onto the coastal flat. Surface lava also emerged along the Kamoamoa lava tube system and traveled down the Pulama pali slope. These surface flows continued to be visible through February, although the flow reaching the coastal plain had stopped at the end of January. At times during early March several rootless shields (a pile of lava flows built over a lava tube rather than over a conduit feeding magma) were active. During 12-19 March a bright glow was widely visible over Kilauea from Pu`u `O`o crater and from a rootless shield near 665 m elevation where the most intense surface activity occurred.

By 18 March lava had flooded the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater resulting in surface lava flows and lava flowing through tubes. Lava spread out on the lower fan and adjacent coastal flat, although the fronts of the flows remained ~2.3 km from the ocean. At the base of the lava fan and on the adjacent coastal flat the rootless shields remained active and small surface lava flows persisted through mid-April.

Eruptive activity changed on 28 March, as noted above, and overflight observations revealed new lava located W of the main crater. Observers also saw lava fountaining and forming a circulating pond. By 31 March a lava flow was visible on the floor of Pu`u `O`o crater and several vents were incandescent. During a brief visit to Pu`u `O`o on 6 April observers noticed that the crater lake had risen ~8 m since 29 March (the lake surface was 17 m below the E rim), several cones were active, and lava was flowing into the lava lake from two vents. By the following day activity had decreased and by 8 April incandescence was no longer visible at Pu`u `O`o.

General References. Decker, R.W., Wright, T.L., and Stauffer, P.H., 1987, (eds.), Volcanism in Hawaii: USGS Professional Paper 1350, 1667 p. (64 papers).

Ryan, M.P., 1988, The mechanics and three-dimensional internal structure of active magmatic systems: Kilauea volcano, Hawaii: JGR, v. 93, p. 4213-4248.

Dzurisin, D., Koyanagi, R.Y., and English, T.T., 1984, Magma supply and storage at Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, 1956-1983: JVGR, v. 21, no. 3/4, p. 177-207.

Heliker, C., Griggs, J.D., Takahashi, T.J., and Wright, T.L., 1986/7, Volcano monitoring at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Earthquakes and Volcanoes, v. 18, no. 1, p. 3-71.

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 National Park, HI 96718, USA (URL: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/).