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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 15 February-21 February 2012


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 February-21 February 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, 15 February-21 February 2012. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (15 February-21 February 2012)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

During 15-21 February, HVO reported that the lava lake circulated and periodically rose and fell in the deep pit within Kilauea's Halema'uma'u Crater. Strong incandescence was visible from the collapsed cone on the NE edge and weaker from a cone on the SE edge during 15-18 and 20 February. A web camera recorded strong incandescence above the pali during 15-16 February. Incandescence also emanated from two sources on the E flank on 19 and 21 February.

Web camera views and satellite images indicated that lava flows remained active within the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision more than 6.5 km SE of Pu'u 'O'o during 15-21 February. The flows advanced down the pali along the E side of the December 2011 flows during the week and on 21 February advanced to the kipuka on the E. On 17 February a second smaller branch appeared on the W side of the December 2011 flows. Ground-based observers reported active lava flows at the top of the pali during 15-21 February.

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)