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Report on Kilauea (United States) — February 1986

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 2 (February 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) 42nd episode of East Rift Zone eruption

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: McClelland, L. (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198602-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Eruptive activity . . . resumed in February . . . . After 25 days of repose, the summit began to deflate on 22 February at 1000 and 10 minutes later lava fountaining began at the Pu`u `O`o vent. Low-level fountaining and pahoehoe spillovers occurred intermittently until 1515 when continuous lava production began. High-amplitude harmonic tremor started 25 minutes later.

Fountain heights increased steadily over the next 7 hours until they reached ~300 m above the vent at 2230 and were sustained at that level for several hours. Four pulses of fountain jetting 360-450 m high, each lasting several minutes, occurred between 0233 and 0416 on the 23rd. After the fourth pulse at 0416, fountaining declined quickly and lava production stopped at 0420. Strong harmonic tremor ended at 0419, but was followed by moderate-amplitude, pulsating tremor for a day. Summit deflation, totalling 14.8 µrad, ended at 0700 on the 23rd; by the end of February, the summit had reinflated by 4.3 µrad (figure 43). Episode 42 lava flows extended ~3.5 km SE from Pu`u `O`o on a broad front. A small flow advanced ~1 km to the N.

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: C. Heliker, G. Ulrich, R. Koyanagi, and R. Hanatani, HVO; E. Nielsen, SI.