Hawaiian Volcanoes

Hawaiian Volcanoes

The Hawaiian – Emperor seamount chain is a series of volcanoes and seamounts extending across the Pacific Ocean. The chain has been produced by the movement of the ocean crust over the Hawaiʻi hotspot, an upwelling of hot rock from the Earth's mantle. As the oceanic crust moves the volcanoes farther away from their source of magma, their eruptions become less frequent and less powerful until they eventually cease to erupt altogether. At that point erosion of the volcano and subsidence of the seafloor cause the volcano to gradually diminish. As the volcano sinks and erodes, it first becomes an atoll island and then an atoll. Further subsidence causes the volcano to sink below the sea surface, becoming a seamount and/or a guyot. This list documents the most significant volcanoes in the chain, ordered by distance from the hotspot; however, there are many others that have yet to be properly studied.

The chain can be divided into three subsections. The first, the Hawaiian archipelago (also known as the Windward isles), consists of the islands comprising the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi (not to be confused with the island of Hawaiʻi). As it is the closest to the hotspot, this volcanically active region is the youngest part of the chain, with ages ranging from 400,000 years to 5.1 million years. The island of Hawaiʻi is comprised by five volcanoes, of which two (Kilauea and Mauna Loa) are still active. Lōʻihi Seamount continues to grow offshore, and is the only known volcano in the chain in the submarine pre-shield stage.

The second part of the chain is composed of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, collectively referred to as the Leeward isles, the constituents of which are between 7.2 and 27.7 million years in age. Erosion has long since overtaken volcanic activity at these islands, and most of them are atolls, atoll islands, and extinct islands. They contain many of the most northerly atolls in the world; one of them, Kure Atoll, is the northern-most atoll in the world. On June 15, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush issued a proclamation creating Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The national monument, meant to protect the biodiversity of the Hawaiian isles, encompasses all of the northern isles, and is one of the largest such protected areas in the world. The proclamation limits tourism to the area, and calls for a phase-out of fishing by 2011.

The oldest and most heavily eroded part of the chain are the Emperor seamounts, which are 39 to 85 million years in age. The Emperor and Hawaiian chains are separated by a large L-shaped bend that causes the orientations of the chains to differ by about 60°. This bend was long attributed to a relatively sudden change in the direction of plate motion, but research conducted in 2003 suggests that it was the movement of the hotspot itself that caused the bend. The issue is still currently under debate.[9] All of the volcanoes in this part of the chain have long since subsided below sea level, becoming seamounts and guyots (see also the seamount and guyot stages of Hawaiian volcanism). Many of the volcanoes are named after former emperors of Japan. The seamount chain extends to the West Pacific, and terminates at the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench, a subduction zone at the border of Russia.

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Hualalai Volcano

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Hualalai Volcano
Big Island, Hawaii

  • 19.692 N, 155.87 W,
  • Volcano summit elevation 2521 meters
  • Shield volcano
Hualalai Volcano is the westermost shield volcano on the island of Hawaii. Eruptions of Hualalai Volcano in 1800-01 occurred from 5 vents with two lava flows reaching the sea.

Hualalai Volcano began growing on the west flank of Mauna Kea about 800,000 years ago, and rose above sea level 300,000 years ago. The northwest rift zone of Hualala continues for a distance of 40 km, to a depth of 3000 m.

Hualalai Volcano 1929 Earthquake Swarm
In 1929 there was an earthquake swarm under Hualalai volcano. Several thousand earthquakes were recorded, and some were felt as far away as Honolulu. The earthquakes may have indicated magma movement under the volcano.

Hualalai Volcano Year 1801 Eruption
The eruption of Hualalai volcano was witnessed by a crew member from Captain Cook's voyage who had remained on the island. The eruption occurred from two vents, and produced two large lava flows. The Kaupulehu lava flow began at an altitude of between 1650-1800 m and reached the sea, destroying villages along the shore. The lava flow was 16 km long. A second lava flow began at an altitude of 500 m, and produced a spatter cone at the source called Puhiopele. The second lava flow reached the sea over a front of 6km.

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Mauno Loa Volcano

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Mauno Loa Volcano

Location : Big Island, Hawaii
  • 19.47 N, 155.60 W,
  • Volcano summit elevation 4170 meters
  • shield volcano
Mauna Loa volcano is one of the tallest mountains in the world. When measured from its base on the sea floor, it rises more than 17,000 m (56,000 feet). Mauna Loa volcano is approaching its longest historical period of inactivity, 25 years. Mauna Loa volcano is spreading because its size is large compared to the thin basal layer.

Mauno Loa 1984 Volcanic Eruption
Early on the morning of 25th March 1984, a magnitude 4 earthquake accompanied an eruption of Mauna Loa volcano. Lava fountains were visible in Mokuaweoweo caldera. This was followed by fissures opening on upper NE Rift Zone. By 29th March, lava flows reach within 6.5 km of Hilo. The eruption finished on 15th April 1984.

Mauno Loa 1975 Volcanic Eruption
Mauna Loa volcano began erupting on 5th July 1975. A line of fountains occurred in the summit caldera, and extended about 2 km beyond the caldera margin into the southwest rift zone.
Volcanoes in Hawaii-mauna-kea-volcano.

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Kilauea Volcano

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Kilauea Volcano

Location : Big Island, Hawaii

  • 19.425 N, 155.292 W,
  • Volcano summit elevation 1222 meters
  • Shield volcano

Kilauea Volcano is one of the world's most active volcanoes. The Kilauea volcano has been in constant eruption since 1983. A large collapse occurred at Kilauea volcano in November 2005. Lava flows destroyed three houses in Royal Gardens subdivision in February 2008.

A bench collapse occurred at Waikupanaha ocean entry, Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, on the afternoon of 17th February 2009 (local time). Four explosions were recorded between 12:45 and 1:15 pm. The lava delta and nearby areas remain dangerous and should not be approached. Bench collapse can occur without warning, and result in explosions and ejection of hot lava, and local waves.
Volcanoes in Hawaii

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Mauna Kea Volcano

Volcanoes in Hawaii: Mauna Kea Volcano
Volcano Location : Big Island, Hawaii
  • 19.82 N, 155.47 W,
  • Volcano summit elevation 4206 meters
  • Shield volcano

Mauna Kea Volcano is the second highest volcano in the Pacific. It is a dormant volcano with a small possibility of eruptions in the future. Eighty percent of people who summit Mauna Kea suffer from altitude illness, due to rapid ascent from sea level.

Eruptions at Mauna Kea Volcano
There have been no historical eruptions at Mauna Kea volcano. At least seven separate vents erupted between about 6,000 and 4,000 years ago on the mountain. The volcano in not yet extinct, and future eruptions will occur. The volcano is about one million years old. Radiocarbon dates obtained from algal sediments at the bottom of Lake Waiau, indicate the summit ice cap disappeared by about 10,000 years ago.

Mauna Kea Cinder Cones
More than 300 cinder cones are located on the upper slopes of Mauna Kea volcano reach concentrations of 8 per sq km. Height-width ratios and crater dimensions reflect the equilibrium angle of repose of constituent tephra. Most cones have westerly asymmetries which reflect trade wind direction. Cones at the summit define an ellipse approximately 2.1 X 2.8 km. These cones may lie along the margin of a buried caldera. Most cones at Mauna Kea Volcano are 200 to 600 m wide and 30 to 100 m high.

1973 Earthquakes
On 26th April 1973 a magnitude 6.2 earthquake occurred 15km north of Hilo, Hawaii, at a focal depth of 48km The location was beneath the east flank of Mauna Kea, a volcano dormant historically, but active within the last 4000 yr. Aftershocks were restricted to a depth of 55-35km. The earthquakes were not related to volcanic activity at Mauna Loa Volcano and Kilauea volcanoes, and may indicate a deep seated prelude to a resumption of activity at Mauna Kea.



The island of Hawaii (USA) is formed by hotspot volcanism or volcanic activities. The islands of Hawaii are located on the Pacific tectonic plate. Two currently active volcanoes are located on the Big Island, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa.

Historical eruptions in Hawaii have occurred at Kilauea. Mauna Loa, Loihi, Hualalai, Haleakala, and two unnamed undersea locations.

Hawaii (Big Island)

* Kilauea
* Mauna Loa
* Hualalai
* Mauna Kea
* Kohala
* Loihi


* Lanai


* Kahoolawe


* West Maui
* Haleakala


* Kauai


* East Molokai (Wailau)


* Waianae
* Honolulu Vents
* Koolau


* Kaula
* Niihau
* Kalaupapa
* 1955 Underwater eruption
* 1956 Underwater eruption