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Report on Kilauea (United States) — 18 August-24 August 2021


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
18 August-24 August 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Kilauea (United States). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 18 August-24 August 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (18 August-24 August 2021)


United States

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

HVO reported that a swarm of earthquakes beneath the S part of Kilauea that began at 1630 on 23 August continued into the early morning of 24 August. The earthquake swarm increased in intensity at 0130 and was accompanied by an increase in the rate of ground deformation to the W of the swarm, as recorded by the Sandhill tiltmeter. This possibly indicated that there was magma movement 1-2 km beneath the S part of the caldera. Over 140 earthquakes were recorded during 24 August, the largest of which was an Mw 3.3; a majority of them were less than Mw 1. Small earthquakes continued at a rate of at least 10 earthquakes per hour through 24 August. As a result, the Aviation Color Code and the Volcano Alert Level were raised to Orange and Watch, respectively.

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)