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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 27 August-2 September 2008


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 August-2 September 2008
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2008. Report on Kilauea (United States) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 27 August-2 September 2008. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (27 August-2 September 2008)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

HVO reported that during 27 August-2 September, lava flowed SE through a lava tube system from underneath Kilauea's Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) and rootless shield complex and reached the Waikupanaha ocean entry. On 31 August, students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo reported low-level explosive activity at Waikupanaha.

A high number of Kilauea's earthquakes were centered in various locations along the Koa'e fault system, beneath the summit, N of Kupaianaha, along the S-flank faults, and along the E and SW rift zones. Beneath Halema'uma'u crater, more than 40 and up to 400 small earthquakes per day (background 40) also occurred but were too small to be located more precisely. The vent in Halema'uma'u crater continued to produce a predominantly white plume with minor ash content that drifted mainly SW. The plume was occasionally tinged brown. Weak night-time incandescence was intermittently seen at the base of the plume, and rock impacts and muted rushing sounds were heard in the vicinity of the crater. During 26-27 August, multiple ash ejections were observed. On 27 August, the white plume was temporarily tinged brown and rose to a higher altitude following an explosive eruption (the fifth in 2008). Glass fragments and tephra up to 5 cm in diameter burned holes in a collection tarp placed near the overlook. Analysis of photos captured over the previous month showed that the vent had lengthened by almost 50 percent along the edge of the crater floor. On 29 August, the collection bin contained Pele's hair, Pele's tears, and a variety of other shapes of glass fragments.

Geological Summary. Kilauea overlaps the E flank of the massive Mauna Loa shield volcano in the island of Hawaii. Eruptions are prominent in Polynesian legends; written documentation since 1820 records frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions interspersed with periods of long-term lava lake activity at Halemaumau crater in the summit caldera until 1924. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1,500 years ago and during the 18th century; eruptions have also originated from the lengthy East and Southwest rift zones, which extend to the ocean in both directions. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1,100 years old; 70% of the surface is younger than 600 years. The long-term eruption from the East rift zone between 1983 and 2018 produced lava flows covering more than 100 km2, destroyed hundreds of houses, and added new coastline.

Source: US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)