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Report on Kilauea (United States) — March 1986


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 11, no. 3 (March 1986)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Two brief episodes of high lava fountains feed short flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1986. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 11:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198603-332010


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Episode 42 was followed by 26 days of repose, before intermittent lava spillovers from Pu`u `O`o vent began on 21 March at 1330. Summit deflation began at midnight, and continuous lava production of E-43 began at 0450 the next day. Fountains reached their maximum height of ~310 m at 1110. The episode ended at 1556 on 22 March after forming two lava flows, one extending 5 km E of the vent, the second 2.3 km NE toward the older Kahaualea cone. The summit grew 5 m . . . to 255 m above the pre-January 1983 surface.

After E-42 the summit had inflated 12.9 µrad before the onset of E-43 deflation. Deflation, totaling 12.8 µrad, continued until ~2 hours after the end of lava production. Inflation following E-43 amounted to 6.3 µrad by the end of March (figure 43).

The strong tremor associated with E-43 began at 0635 on the 22nd, peaked at 1200, and ended at 1554. Fluctuating low-amplitude tremor continued through the rest of the month near Pu`u `O`o.

Addendum: By 9 April, the summit had recovered all of the deflation associated with the previous episode. Episode 44's vigorous lava production began 13 April at about 2100, after a few hours of lava spillovers into the main channel. Lava fountains reached heights of 250 m [but see 11:04] by 0200 then stopped at 0756, feeding a few short lava flows to the NE and a longer aa flow that extended > 4 km to the ESE.

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: C. Heliker, M. Sako, and J. Nakata, HVO.