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Report on Kilauea (United States) — November 1987

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 12, no. 11 (November 1987)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Lava flows into ocean, destroys house

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1987. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 12:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198711-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Lava production continued into early December. . .. Lava flowed into the sea 1-25 November, the W lobe continuously (in the national park, W of Kupapau Point), and the eastern intermittently (E of Kupapau Point), as in October. Activity at the coast declined to a trickle on 26 November. The next day lava broke out at several points between 240 and 170 m elevation, indicating blockage within the tube system. Several flows advanced over the prominent south flank fault scarp, reaching 60 m elevation. By 2 December, the middle lobe had reached the previously covered coast highway and by 7 December lava was again flowing into the ocean near Kupapau Point, on top of previous flows. In Royal Gardens subdivision, lava movement was intermittent through November, primarily slow ooze-outs on top of older flows. However, lava re-entered Royal Gardens in early December, and one lobe destroyed the last remaining house in the SE part of the subdivision before stagnating on 4 December.

Shallow tremor continued at a low level . . . near the active vent and Pu`u `O`o. Accompanying microshocks caused by rockfalls, degassing, or thermal compensation in recent lava flows occurred several to 100 times a day. Intermediate and deep tremor activity in summit region was intermittent. Minor bursts of short-period events beneath the summit were recorded for a week in mid-November, and were followed a week later by a 2-day swarm of long-period events. Many of the month's earthquakes occurred at intermediate depths . . . under the summit and S flanks of Kilauea.

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 and R. Koyanagi, HVO.