USGS
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Photo Information



Tallest lava fountain as seen from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Photograph by D.H. Richter at 2:00 p.m. on December 17, 1959

This view from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is looking across Kilauea Caldera to the tallest lava fountain of the Kilauea Iki eruption--580 m (1,900 ft) above the vent (not visible from the observatory). Observers described the "awesome and terrifying" fountain as having developed in only 12 minutes with no warning from a small 8-15 m fountain. This tremendous fountain led rangers of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park to consider an evacuation of the Park's housing area, 1.2-1.8 km northwest of the vent.

The dark cloud on the leeward side of the fountain consists of falling tephra, primarily pumice.


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Updated: 24 May 2000