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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 25 May-31 May 2016


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
25 May-31 May 2016
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2016. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 25 May-31 May 2016. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (25 May-31 May 2016)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

HVO reported that around 0650 on 24 May new lava flows broke out from the flanks of Kilauea's Pu'u 'O'o cone. The first flow originated about 250 m from the rim of the cone's NE flank and traveled NW, and the second flow came from an area on the E flank, about 500 m from the cone's rim, and traveled SE. By 0830 the first flow was about 1 km long and the second one was about 700 m long. By the same time on 25 May the first flow had become channelized and a new 950-m-long lobe had descended NW. The other flow was active but had not significantly advanced.

The lava lake continued to circulate and eject spatter in the Overlook vent during 25-31 May; a rockfall into the lake on 26 May and briefly triggered sloshing and agitation of the lake. The June 27th NE-trending lava flow continued to be active within 5 km NE of Pu'u 'O'o Crater. Webcams recorded glow from multiple spatter cones on the Pu'u 'O'o Crater floor. The new lava flows extended about 1.2 km NW and SE by 27 May and continued to be active through 29 May.

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)