Hawaiian Volcanoes


Viewing an erupting volcano is a memorable experience; one that has inspired fear, superstition, worship, curiosity, and fascination throughout the history of mankind. The active Hawaiian volcanoes have received special attention worldwide because of their frequent spectacular eruptions, which can be viewed and studied with a relative ease and safety. The island of Hawaii is composed of five volcanoes, three of which have been active within the past two hundred years. Kilauea?s latest eruption still continues as of today. Mauna Loa?s latest activity was in 1984 and Hualalai?s in 1800-1801, but is likely to erupt again within the next one hundred years. East Maui, or Haleakala, one of the oldest volcanoes, has a long eruptive history and recent activity indicates that the volcano will erupt in the near future. Last but not least, the Loihi Seamount, sometimes known as the ?youngest volcano? is an undersea mountain this is still active. Scientists now believe that the hot spots lie in the ocean, deep beneath the volcanoes. These hot spots spew out of molten rock that rises to the water?s surface and hardens. After doing this for a long time, the hardened lava forms an island, like the Hawaiian islands (Volcanoes Online).

The Kilauea volcano is one of the most active volcanoes on earth. It?s current eruption started in January 1983, and there is no signs that the current eruption is slowing or will come to an end anytime soon. The U.S. Geological Observatory monitors the daily activities of the volcano, for example-movement of lava flows, earthquakes, surface deformation, and gas production. Kilauea has been monitored ever since, making it one of the better-studied volcanoes. Still there is much we don?t understand about the inner workings of this volcano. Unlike most other volcanoes though, Kilauea is approachable. It has been called the ?drive up? volcano because of the ease of access to many of its volcanic activity. On February 24, 2000, an article came out, which was entitled Breakouts result from tube blockages. It stated:

The intrusion of magma into the upper east rift zone of Kilauea on February 23 caused minor but noticeable changes in the opening eruption. Lava continued to enter the tube system at Pu?u?O?o, but blockages in the tube above the pali resulted in many breakouts on the active flow field. (Hawaii Center for Vocanology)

Kilauea shares the hot spot with its larger active sibling Mauna Loa, and with the Loihi Seamount.

Mauna Loa or ?Long Mountain? is the largest active volcano in the world. In fact it is one of the tallest mountains in the world. The Mauna Loa and other active volcanoes on the island have tended to erupt on an average of every two to three years, placing them among the most frequently active volcanoes in the world. Mauna Loa like all the volcanoes in Hawaii are called shield volcanoes. This means it is a gently sloping mountain produced from a large number of generally very fluid lava flows. The volcano has been erupting for at least one hundred thousand years, possibly more, from a primary volcanic center at the mountain summit (The Knowledge Adventure Homepage). Hualailai is the third youngest and third most historically active volcano on the island of Hawaii. Though Hualalai is not nearly as active as Mauna Loa or Kilauea, our recent geologic mapping of the volcano shows that eighty- percent of Hualalai?s surface has been covered by lava flows in the past five thousand years. Hualailai is considered a potentially dangerous volcano that is likely to erupt again in the next one hundred years.

When asked about the Hawaiian volcanoes, most people imagine the big island and its eruption at Kilauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes. But East Maui, or Halekala, has witnessed eruptions in the past ten thousand years. Thus, the volcanoes long eruptive history and recent activity indicate the East Maui will erupt in the near future (Hawaii Center for Volcano logy).

Loihi Seamount, sometimes known as the ?youngest volcano? in the Hawaiian chain, is an undersea mountain rising more then three thousand meters above the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Before the 1970?s, Loihi was not known to be an active volcano. Instead, it was thought to be a fairly common old seamount volcano of the type that surrounds the Hawaiian Islands. Later, it was revealed that the Loihi was a young, active volcano. In August 1996, the Loihi volcano rumbled to life again and has