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Description of Kilauea eruptions started at opportune time

William Ellis led a team of missionaries on a tour of the Island of Hawaii starting on July 18, 1823, from the village of Kailua. Their trip took them around the southern coast of the island and inland through the east Ka‘u District. When they were in the vicinity of Kapapala, a short distance northeast of Pahala, their attention was drawn to some rising columns of “smoke” a few miles away.

A new lava flow begins as another ends

For the past year, the Kahaualea 2 lava flow was erupting from a vent high on the northeast crater rim of Puu Oo, on Kilauea’s east rift zone, sending lava toward the northeast. Although this lava flow advanced very slowly, and erratically, it was uphill from residential areas and posed a potential future hazard. Several interruptions to the lava supply at the vent occurred over the past year but nothing large enough to terminate the flow. In the early morning of June 27, the terminal event finally arrived.

Mauna Loa lava flow again threatened Hilo in 1881

A few weeks ago, a Volcano Watch article recounted the advance of Mauna Loa lava on the town of Hilo in 1855. Titus Coan, a fervent investigator and observer of all things volcanic, was in his mid-50s at the time and walked up to the source of the flow at least seven times between August 1855, when the eruption began, and February 1856, when the lava flow stopped. By the end of the eruption, Coan understood how lava flows advanced with a level of detail that no one else had achieved before.

The Kahaualea 2 flow continues its slow, erratic advance

For the past several years, the amount of lava erupting from Kilauea’s East Rift Zone has been well below the long-term output rate established earlier in the Puu Oo eruption. In fact, calculations show that, since 2010, only about half as much lava is being erupted at any given time as before. The reason for this is unknown; maybe it is a consequence of the opening of Kilauea’s summit eruptive vent in 2008 or perhaps it is a natural variability in the amount of magma arriving beneath the volcano from the Earth’s mantle.

Mauna Loa — a stirring giant?

After a 30-year repose, Mauna Loa may be slowly stirring to life. While there are no signs of impending eruption, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has recorded an increased level of seismic activity on the flanks and summit of Mauna Loa over the past 13 months.

The 1855-56 Mauna Loa flow nearly devastated Hilo

On the evening of Aug. 11, 1855, Mauna Loa erupted from a location described as 1,000 to 2,000 feet below the summit of the volcano. This was the sixth eruption of Mauna Loa, and the second to send a lava flow advancing toward Hilo, since the Waiakea Mission Station — the East Hawaii base for Protestant missionaries — was established in Hilo in 1824.

Conference features wet volcanoes workshop

The recent anniversary of Kilauea’s May 1924 explosive summit eruptions reminds us of the sometimes violent interactions that occur when relatively cool water near the Earth’s surface comes into contact with much hotter magmatic material found at depth. As chronicled in the May 8 Volcano Watch, and at several recent public presentations, even relatively small, steam-driven eruptions like those of 1924 can affect people who live on and near active volcanoes.

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Kilauea was jumping and rocks were flying 90 years ago

Ninety years ago this month, Kilauea was exploding. For some 20 days starting May 11, 1924, more than 50 explosive bursts, each lasting a few minutes or less, spread ash across the eastern third of the island, from Hilo to Makuu to beyond Pahala. Blocks weighing up to 12 tons fell around Halemaumau. Truman Taylor, a young accountant from Pahala, was killed by a falling rock near today’s Halemaumau parking lot, and others, including the national park superintendent, suffered minor injuries. It was a month very different from any since.