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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 4 January-10 January 2012


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 4 January-10 January 2012
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Kilauea (United States) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 4 January-10 January 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (4 January-10 January 2012)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 4-10 January, HVO reported that the lava lake circulated and periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater, remaining below the inner ledge (75 m below the crater floor). Almost daily measurements indicated that the gas plume from the vent continued to deposit variable amounts of ash and fresh spatter nearby.

Incandescence was visible along the 21 September 2011 fissure on the SE flank of the Pu'u 'O'o cone during 4-5 January and from small spatter cones on the E, S, and W edges of the Pu'u 'O'o crater floor during 4-10 January. A web camera showed no activity on the flow field during 4-10 January; however clouds may have prevented views. On 6 January activity increased within a small pit that formed on the E edge of the crater during the previous week. The pit filled with lava and overflowed generating a small lava flow to the N within the crater. Activity continued within the pit during 7-8 January with short lava flows N and W. On 8 January thermal anomalies seen in satellite imagery were about 2-4 km SW of Pu'u 'O'o cone and observers on an overflight reported surface flows in the same area. On 9 January satellite imagery showed a weaker thermal anomaly.

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)