Kilauea, Hawai'i Anna melton

The Kilauea Volcano is the most active, youngest shield volcano in Kilauea, Hawai'i. The Hawaiian name "Kilauea" means "spewing" or "much spreading," in reference to the lava flows that it erupts. Kilauea makes up 14% of the land area of the Big Island, located on the southern part of Hawai'i. The Kilauea volcano constantly erupts from time to time due to vents on its caldera or on the rift zones. Currently, the volcano is still having one of the most long-lived eruptions, called Pu'u'O'u, since January 3rd, 1983.

Kilauea Volcano Big Island

The Kilauea volcano is 1,277 meters (4,190 feet) and sits on the southeast side of the Mauna Loa shield volcano, but has its very own vent and conduit system. it has a large caldera with a central crater, Halema 'uma 'u (which, according to Hawaiian legends is the home of the fire goddess, Pele). it also contained a lava lake until 1924. Kilauea has frequent flank lava flow and summit eruptions that occur along two elongated rift zones to the southwest and east. Kilauea's surface is formed from about 90% of lava flows less than 1100 years old; and 70% of it's surface is less than 600 years old.

Kilauea's Lava Lake
Kilauea Volcano Lava Flow

The Kilauea volcano has had 61 eruptions current eruptions in its current cycle; and its long-lasting eruptions has destroyed more than 200 structures including the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park visiting center, the Royal Gardens subdivision, and many homes and buildings in the town of Kalapana. It frequently damages local utilities and roads.

Eruption Aftermath
Eruption Aftermath

Scientist have theories on how the volcanic islands were created: In 1963, J. Tuzo Wilson proposed the "Hotspot Theory" to explain the unusual placement of the Hawai'i volcanoes, like Kilauea. He also proposed that the volcanic islands were due to the movement of the pacific plate that lies on top of great heat from deep within the earth. Heat from the hotspot melts the plate above the hotspot; and the crust gets pushed over by the spreading of the seafloor along the plate boundary. The melting of the plate produces magma, which rises through the mantle and crust as a thin thermal plume, erupting beneath the ocean to form an active seamount. Over time, the eruptions increased the height of the seamount until it broke through the ocean surface and became an island volcano. As the pacific plate moved over time, the island moved away from the hotspot and new ones formed in this cycle.

Conception of the movement of the Pacific Plate over the fixed Hawaiian "Hot Spot,"
More Photos of Kilauea


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Anna Melton

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