Kilauea Crater Rim Drive

The colored number circles correspond to
the links on the right side of this page.

  1. Kilauea Visitor Center
  2. Sulphur Banks
  3. Steam Vents and Steaming Bluff
  4. Kilauea Overlook
  5. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory & Jaggar Museum
  6. Southwest Rift Zone
  7. Halemaumau Overlook
  8. Keanakakoi Overlooks
  9. Puu Puai Overlook
  10. Thurston Lava Tube
  11. Kilauea Iki Overlook

Crater Rim Drive, Stop 11 - Kilauea Iki Overlook

The Kilauea Iki pit crater formed near the top of the Ai-laau shield, a vent for Kilauea volcano about 350-500 years ago. The Ai-laau eruption was probably fed by a shallow magma chamber a few miles below the surface. Magma within this chamber either erupted on the surface or drained down into deeper levels within the volcano. After the eruption ceased, the chamber was no longer full and exerted less pressure on the surrounding rocks. The weight of the overlying rocks was greater that the upward pressure in the chamber. The rocks above the chamber collapsed, filling the open space within the chamber and causing the surface to collapse, making Kilauea Iki crater. The collapsed probably occurred between 350 and 200 years ago. Photograph J.D. Griggs, U.S. Geological Survey.

Prior to the 1959 eruption, Kilauea Iki was nearly 600 feet deep and heavily forested.
A section of Crater Rim Drive can be seen on the right. Photograph courtesy U.S. Geological Survey, 1923.

The Kilauea Iki eruption began on November 14, 1959 and last 36 days. During that time there were 17 episodes of lava fountaining. The eruption filled the crater with 390 feet (120 m) of new lava and constructed the Puu Puai cinder cone. Many long-time lava watchers considered this the best eruption they have seen.

The overlook of Kilauea Iki pit crater is one of the most spectacular views in the park. Kilauea Iki is in the foreground. Puu Puai cinder cone is on the opposite rim of the crater. Byron's Ledge is a horst between Kilauea Iki pit crater and Kilauea caldera. A keen eye can find Halemaumau. snow-capped Mauna Loa forms the skyline.

Written and Photographed by Steve Mattox except where stated.

Sources of Information

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