Report on Kilauea (United States) — 29 December-4 January 2011
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 December-4 January 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2010. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 29 December-4 January 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
19.421°N, 155.287°W; summit elev. 1222 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
During 29 December-4 January, HVO reported that activity at Kilauea continued from the summit caldera and the east rift zone. At the summit caldera, the level of the lava-pool surface in the deep pit within Halema'uma'u crater circulated and remained mostly stable at approximately 120 m below the crater floor, periodically rising several meters higher. Nighttime incandescence was visible from the Jaggar Museum on the NW caldera rim. A plume from the vent that drifted mainly SW deposited ash and fresh spatter nearby.
At the east rift zone, lava that broke out of the Quarry tube onto the surface, at a saddle between two rootless shields at around the 610 m elevation, continued to advance in two branches. The lava flow at the lowest elevation advanced E beyond Kalapana by 3 January. Incandescence from a small spatter cone on the north-central part of Pu'u 'O'o crater floor continued. Lava from that cone flowed SE, NE, and W. Lava from a second spatter cone, located on the NW edge of the crater, was active on the crater floor. Weak incandescence was also visible from a small, fume-producing vent in the E wall of the crater, and from other various areas on the crater floor.
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.