The recent devastating eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii has prompted a lot of outside interest in the region’s volcanic activity, specifically with this volcano. While the volcano has erupted quite regularly over the last several decades, this is certainly the most dramatic and destructive eruption the region has experienced, coming right after a 5.0 magnitude earthquake and shooting lava into residential areas, prompting mandatory evacuations of subdivisions like Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens.
Kilauea stands about 4,190 feet above sea level, and makes up about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera features a large lava lake called Halema’uma’u, which, in native Hawaiian folklore, was the home of the volcano goddess Pele.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that the volcano is a part of another larger volcano, Mauna Loa, but geologists posit it is a volcano of its own, which has its own conduit system and vent.
In its current cycle, Kilauea has erupted at least 60 recorded times, and has been continually erupting since 1983. But again, few of these eruptions match the magnitude of the most recent disaster.
Kilauea’s eruption history
Obviously, the volcano has been erupting far longer than scientists have been recording it. There are oral stories and native Hawaiian legends of eruptions going back hundreds of years.
The current eruption cycle of Kilauea began on January 3, 1983 at the middle of the east rift zone. By April of that year, eruptions were localized at a single vent. Most of the eruptions in those first few months were short and produced quickly cooling lava flows that came to a stop before they reached the coast. But in July of that year, lava proceeded toward the Royal Gardens subdivision, destroying homes and causing it to be abandoned.
In 1986, new lava flows spread through Kalapana, destroying homes and the Visitor Center at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Then, four years later, the most destructive period of eruptions in the volcano’s modern history began. That summer, more than 100 homes, a store and a church were all buried beneath between 50 and 80 feet of lava.
By 2012, there was only one house in the Royal Gardens subdivision that still had a resident, but 61-year-old Jack Thompson abandoned it that year. The last roads to the area had been closed in 2008, which made it necessary for Thompson to hike a few miles to reach access roads when he needed to go into town. But lava flowed into the area once more that year, and he and a few friends had to be evacuated by helicopter.
Additional recent eruptions and lava flows happened in later 2012, in early 2013 and in 2014.
Over the years, the volcano has destroyed hundreds of homes, buildings, utilities, roads and other structures. This most recent eruption has been devastating, but Hawaiians will overcome its disasters once again.
To learn more about the volcano, or to book a trip with a fishing charter in Hawaii, contact Sea Wife Charters today.