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Report on Kilauea (United States) — January 1989

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 14, no. 1 (January 1989)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Kilauea (United States) Lava flow remains active at seacoast and upslope

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1989. Report on Kilauea (United States) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 14:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198901-332010.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During January, an estimated 70% of the lava that emerged from the Kupaianaha lava pond entered the ocean via the W tube system . . . . The pond level averaged 20-25 m below the rim all month. Two flows that branched from the main tube system at 440-425 m completely roofed over during the month but fed surface breakouts at low elevations. The terminus of the first flow was near the N edge of the 1986 Kapa'ahu kipuka at 35 m elevation. The second flow followed the E edge of the 1986-89 lava field during early January. By the 23rd, the main terminus had advanced onto grassland and was 800 m upslope of Hwy 130. The 150-m-wide terminus did not advance after the 23rd, but the flow remained active upslope. Active lava was also sighted several times in the bottom of Pu`u `O`o.

Output from the tube system at the coast continued to build an active lava bench, which measured 535 x 115 m on 5 January. Lava entered the bench at one main entry point and at two smaller outlets to the E. From 5 to 9 January, 20% of the bench was destroyed by small collapses. On the 11th, a steam jetting event from the tube on the bench deposited spatter 150 m inland. On the 20th, three littoral cones (~1-2 m) were forming on the bench. A major collapse on the 23rd at 0844 removed the bench's W half, causing an explosion that threw 10-50-cm blocks 40-50 m inland. On 24 January, spatter explosions built cones 2 m high on the remaining portion of the bench, which began to rebuild on the 26th. Growth continued until the end of the month.

Low-level tremor . . . continued in the middle East rift zone and at the flow front near Kupapau Point. Tremor was generally steady except 5-9 January when amplitude fluctuated at intervals varying from minutes to several hours. A series of rockfall and acoustic signals, caused by the major bench collapse on 23 January, was recorded . . . from 0820-0948. The number of microearthquakes was about average in the summit region and East rift zone.

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.