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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 10 August-16 August 2011

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 10 August-16 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, 10 August-16 August 2011. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Volcano Profile |  Weekly Report (10 August-16 August 2011)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 10-16 August HVO reported that Kilauea's summit lava lake was mostly crusted, but lava, possibly from a source higher on the SE wall, occasionally flowed over the surface. Small rockfalls from the vent walls were frequent, and the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and occasionally fresh spatter nearby. During an overflight on 11 August, scientists observed an E-W trench in the deepest part of the cavity. Lava was upwelling from the E end and flowing W. During 14-15 August hot and possibly spattering vents were visible on the W part of the cavity floor.

At the E-rift zone, lava continued to trickle onto Pu'u 'O'o's collapsed crater floor and some spattering occurred from various sources the floor. The W-flank vents remained active and fed an elongated perched lava pond that extended to the SW, and also a small flow which advanced a short distance N. Small overflows or breaches from the elongated lake were occasionally active on the N side. During the 11 August overflight, scientists noted that the activity was less vigorous; the two channels that continued to feed the perched lake were crusted over and the W-flank vents were no longer spattering. The pond rims were higher and the pond was narrower, lava flows from the base of the pond were active on the N and W sides of the pond, and the S rim of the pond appeared to be slowly migrating S. The crater floor subsided a small amount on 15 August.

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)