THE CURRENT ERUPTION OF KILAUEA VOLCANO
Photo of the "fire hose" flow, a small lava tube pouring into the ocean.
Photograph by J.D. Griggs, U.S. Geological Survey, November 27, 1989.
Lesson at a glance, Key Concepts, and Lesson Outcomes are available by
The current eruption of Kilauea Volcano is the most long-lived and
voluminous rift zone eruption in Hawaii in historical time. The eruption
has provided volcanologists with exceptional opportunities to better
understand how volcanoes work. It has also reminded residents about the
hazards of living on an active volcano.
This description is presented in short paragraphs that describe
important events in the history of the current eruption. Details of the
first 20 episodes of the eruption are given in Wolfe and others (1987,
1988). A general summary and very readable account of the eruption is
given by Heliker and Wright (1991a). Numerous summaries are given in
, a weekly publication by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The U.S.
Geological Survey recently published a
that contains 475 photographs of the
eruption from 1983-1993 (Takahashi, T.J., Abston, C.C., and Heliker, C.C.
The current eruption is divided into episodes. An episode is a
volcanic event that is distinguished by its duration or style. Episodes
are commonly separated by a period of repose during which there is no
lava at the surface. To date (February 1996), there have been 53
episodes. They have lasted from less than 24 hours to several years.
Keeping track of all these episodes, especially after Episode 49, can be
confusing, even if you are a volcanologist. A
is provided that summarizes episodes, major events,
To make it easier to learn about this long eruption, its history is
divided into several different periods. Each period correspondence to
significant changes in the style of eruption, location of the active
vent(s), and/or impact of the
eruption on people and places.
Start of the Eruption: 1983
Puu Oo: 1983-1986
Episode 49 and the End of the Kupaianaha Eruption: 1991-1992
Episodes 50, 51, and 52, New Vents on the Flank of the "Old" Puu Oo
Episodes 51 and 53 Continue: 1993 - present
Damage Caused by the Eruption
For a table that summarizes significant events and dates for the current
eruption of Kilauea click