Logo link to homepage

Report on Kilauea (United States) — 16 April-22 April 2003

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 April-22 April 2003
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2003. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 16 April-22 April 2003. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (16 April-22 April 2003)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During the week ending 22 April, Kilauea continued to erupt, sending lava down its SE flank either traveling over the land surface or through tubes. Lava entered the sea at the West Highcastle entry; activity there was sometimes weak, though one or more glowing areas were typically seen.

On 16 April a large tract of land not over-run by surrounding lava (a kipuka or ahu in the local parlance) remained within the Kohola lava flow, still ~30 cm above the top of inflated lavas that surround it. On the eastern margin of the swath of lava flows going down the steep slopes of Pulama pali, one partly crusted-over lava stream was highly visible. The crater of Pu`u `O`o was dark and obscured by fume. The previous day ended with a small inflation-deflation event recorded at both Kilauea's summit and Pu`u `O`o. These tilt changes began at Uwekahuna.

During 16-17 April, the Uwekahuna tiltmeter at Kilauea's summit recorded three small inflations, the last apparently right at its crest. Pu`u `O`o has generally followed suit, though in this case showing only two of the inflations very well. These tilts are not major but continue to illustrate the clear connection between Kilauea's summit, where most tilt events start, and Pu`u `O`o, 20 km away, where the tilt events follow a few minutes later.

Seismicity during the week was at low to normal levels. Instruments continued to register the summit swarm of long-period earthquakes and tremor, which began last June. Volcanic tremor at Pu`u `O`o remained elevated, as has been the norm for more than a week.

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.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)