U.S. Geological Survey - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
Kilauea - Eruption Update - Eruption Summary - Hazards - History
In fact, the summit of Kilauea lies on a curving line of volcanoes that includes Mauna Kea and Kohala and excludes Mauna Loa. In other words, Kilauea is to Mauna Kea as Lo`ihi is to Mauna Loa. Hawaiians used the word Kilauea only for the summit caldera, but earth scientists and, over time, popular usage have extended the name to include the entire volcano.
Kilauea is the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. Hawaiian chants and oral traditions tell in veiled form of many eruptions fomented by an angry Pele before the first European, the missionary Rev. William Ellis, saw the summit in 1823. The caldera was the site of nearly continuous activity during the 19th century and the early part of this century. Since 1952 there have been 34 eruptions, and since January 1983 eruptive activity has been continuous along the east rift zone. All told, Kilauea ranks among the world's most active volcanoes and may even top the list.
The Hawaiian name "Kilauea" means "spewing" or "much spreading," apparently in reference to the lava flows that it erupts.
19.425 N 155.292 W
Elev. Above Sea Level
(13.7% of Hawai`i)
Most Recent Eruption
Continuous since January 3, 1983
Number of Historical Eruptions
61, not counting the continuous lava-lake activity in Halema`uma`u crater
Name: The caldera itself has no Hawaiian name other than Kilauea but houses the famous crater, Halema`uma`u; "hale" is a house, "ma`uma`u" a type of fern. Kamapua`a, a jilted suitor of Pele, is said to have built a house of ferns over Halema`uma`u to keep Pele from escaping her home and causing eruptions. The ploy failed.
Estimated Age of Earliest Subaerial Eruptions
Estimated Age of First Eruption of Kilauea
300,000-600,000 years before present
Hawaiian Volcano Stage