Report on Kilauea (United States) — 10 December-16 December 2008
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 December-16 December 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 December-16 December 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
HVO reported that during 10-16 December lava flowed SE through a tube system from underneath Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex, reaching the Waikupanaha ocean entry. Incandescence was occasionally seen at the TEB vent, and surface flows were noted on and at the base of the pali, and on the coastal plain. A branch of lava previously seen traveling S towards the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park boundary went about 55 m into the park. On 16 December, a Pu'u 'O'o Crater web camera was hit with a small amount of debris, suggesting a collapse in the crater.
Earthquakes were variously located beneath the caldera, along the SW rift zone, and along the S-flank fault. Beneath Halema'uma'u crater the number of earthquakes on 10 December ranged from 150 to 200, but were too small to be located more precisely (less than M 1.7 and recorded on fewer than four seismometers). The vent in Halema'uma'u crater continued to produce a predominantly white plume that drifted mainly SW and deposited small amounts of tephra. Weak winds caused poor air quality at the summit. Sounds resembling rockfalls were sometimes heard in the vicinity of the crater.
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.