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Report on Mauna Loa (United States) — 8 September-14 September 2004


Mauna Loa

Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
8 September-14 September 2004
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Mauna Loa (United States). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 8 September-14 September 2004. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (8 September-14 September 2004)

Mauna Loa

United States

19.475°N, 155.608°W; summit elev. 4170 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


HVO reported that beginning in early July 2004 an increasing number of earthquakes had been recorded beneath Mauna Loa. From week to week, the numbers fluctuated but remained well above the norm. Through the first week of September, more than 350 earthquakes were centered beneath Mauna Loa's summit caldera and the adjacent part of the southwest rift zone. Most of these earthquakes were quite deep, from 35 to 50 km below the ground surface. They were "long-period" (LP) earthquakes, which means that their signals gradually rise out of the ambient seismic background. Such a concentrated number of deep LP earthquakes from this part of Mauna Loa is unprecedented, at least in the modern earthquake catalog dating back to the 1960s. Inflation continued at the summit and as of 12 September showed no change during the increased seismic activity.

Geological Summary. Massive Mauna Loa is a basaltic shield volcano that rises almost 9 km from the ocean floor to form the world's largest Holocene volcano. Flank eruptions typically occur from the lengthy NE and SW rift zones, and from the Moku'aweoweo summit is caldera, which is within an older and larger 6 x 8 km caldera. Two of the youngest large debris avalanches documented in Hawaii traveled nearly 100 km from Mauna Loa; the second of the Alika avalanches was emplaced about 105,000 years ago (Moore et al., 1989). Almost 90% of the surface of the volcano is covered by lavas less than 4,000 years old (Lockwood and Lipman, 1987). Beginning about 1,500 years ago, a series of voluminous overflows from a summit lava lake covered about 25% of the volcano's surface. Over the last 750 years, from shortly after the formation of Moku'aweoweo caldera until the present, an additional 25% of the volcano has been covered with lava flows, mainly from summit and NW rift zone vents.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)