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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 27 July-2 August 2011


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
27 July-2 August 2011
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 July-2 August 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (27 July-2 August 2011)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

HVO reported that two lava lakes at Kilauea were active during 27 July-2 August. The level of the summit lava lake fluctuated deep in the 150-m-diameter vent inset within the E wall of Halema'uma'u Crater and circulated with various patterns. Periodic measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and occasionally fresh spatter nearby.

Lava from the Puka Nui and MLK pits, smaller craters to the W of the main Pu'u 'O'o crater, continued to overflow to the SW, producing a tube-fed pahoehoe flow that had advanced about 700 m from the Puka Nui rim during 25-30 July. Lava from the base of the NE crater filled a trough between the crater wall and the perched lava lake. Uplift of the crater floor and lava lake continued until 30 July, when a breakout lava flow started along the base of the crater's S wall and the lake slowly subsided. Subsidence continued the next day but switched to inflation on 1 August. The preliminary sulfur dioxide emission rate from all east rift zone sources was calculated at 1,700, 1,000, and 800 tonnes/day on 29 and 30 July, and 1 August, respectively.

Geological Summary. 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)