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Kilauea

Volcano: Kilauea volcano, Big Island, Hawai'i
The youngest and most active of several shield volcanoes forming the Big Island of Hawai'i.

Lava lake inside Pu'u O'o crater on the Eastern rift zone
Lava lake inside Pu'u O'o crater on the Eastern rift zone
Streams of lava flowing into the sea
Streams of lava flowing into the sea
Kilauaea volcano is probably the most active volcano on earth. It is a young shield volcano located above the center of the Hawaiian hot spot. It's typical products are fluid lava flows.

Kilauea's flat summit is occupied by a large caldera where about 50% of its total activity takes place, sometimes generating lava lakes, sometimes spectacular fissure eruptions with lava fountains. Other frequent sites of eruptions are located along two alignments known as the SW and E rift zones, extending for tens of kilometers from the summit.

It has been in near-constant activity since there is oral or written history and it is having an uninterrupted eruption since 1983 (at present at the Pu'u 'O'o vent on the East rift zone).

Its eruptions are prominent in Hawaiian Polynesian legends and written documentation about its activity go back to only 1820s when it started to attract interested visitor from all over the world and bacame one of volcanology's hot spots.

The large central crater of its summit is called Halema'uma'u, which is according to Hawaiian legends the home of the fire goddess Pele. Until 1924, it contained a lava lake. Kilauea has frequent summit and flank lava flow eruptions that are occurring along two elongated rift zones to the south-west and to the east, which extend to the sea on both sides of the volcano. The 3 x 5 km caldera was formed in several stages about 1500 years ago. About 90% of the surface of the basaltic shield volcano is formed of lava flows less than about 1100 years old; 70% of the volcano's surface is younger than 600 years. The long-term eruption from the East rift zone that began in 1983 has produced lava flows covering more than 100 sq km, destroying nearly 200 houses and adding new coastline to the island.


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