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Summary of Historical Eruptions, 1843 - Present

Polynesian settlers, who first reached Hawai`i about 1500 years ago, preserved almost no record of Mauna Loa's eruptive activity, and the earliest references are fragmentary accounts of activity in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The first extended written account of a Mauna Loa eruption was by a missionary who witnessed the June 1832 eruption from Maui, 190 km away; the lava flows erupted during this activity have not yet been positively identified, however, so this eruption is not included in the eruption-summary table below.

Want to learn more about the eruptions listed in the table?
Follow the links of each "year" for an eruption chronology, photos and map showing areas covered by lava and early eyewitness accounts of Mauna Loa's eruptions.

Table source and notes

Year Start (mo-day) Summit
(days)
Flank (days) Eruptive Subdivision Area Covered (km2) Volume (km3 Error in Estimated Volume (%)
1984 Mar-25 <1 22 S, NE 48 0.220 ?20
1975 Jul-5 1 0 S 13 0.030 ?20
1950 Jun-1 1 23 S, SW 112 0.376 ?20-40
1949 Jan-6 145 0 S 22 0.116 ?20
1942 Apr-26 2 13 S, NE 34 0.176 ?20
1940 Apr-17 134 0 S 13 0.110 ?20
1935 Nov-21 6 40 S, NE, MKN 33 0.087 ?20-40
1933 Dec-2 17 0 S 6 0.100 ?20-40
1926 Apr-10 <1 14 S, SW 35 0.121 ?20-40
1919 Sep-26 <1 38 S, SW 28 0.183 ?20-40
1916 May-19 0 12 SW 17 0.031 ?20-40
1914 Nov-25 48 0 S 5 0.055 ?20-40
1907 Jan-9 <1 15 S, SW 28 0.121 ?20-40
1903 Oct-6 61 0 S 5 0.070 > ?40
1903 Sep-1 <1 0 S 1 0.003 no data
1899 Jul-1 4 21 S, NE 23 0.081 ?20-40
1896 Apr-21 16 0 S 5 0.025 > ?40
1892 Nov-30 3 0 S 3 0.012 > ?40
1887 Jan-16 <1 7 S, SW 29 0.128 ?20-40
1880 Nov-5 0 280 NE 51 0.130 ?20-40
1880 May-1 6 0 S 5 0.010 no data
1879 Mar-9 S 0   1 0.001 no data
1877 Feb-14 < <1 S, MKN 1 0.008 > ?40
1872 Aug-9 ~1,200
(nearly
continuous)
0 S 5 0.630 ?20-40
1871 Aug-10 ~20 0 S 3 0.020 no data
1868 Mar-27 <1 5 S, SW 24 0.123 ?20-40
1865 Dec-30 ~125 0 S 5 0.050 no data
1859 Jan-23 <1 ~300 S, MKN 91 0.383 > ?40
1855 Aug-8 <1 ~450 S, NE 66 0.280 > ?40
1852 Feb-17 1 20 S, NE 33 0.182 ?20-40
1851 Aug-8 4 0 S 12 0.035 ?20-40
1849 May-(?) 15 0 S 5 0.025 no data
1843 Jan-10 5 ~90 S, NE, MKN 45 0.202 > ?40
        Total 806 km2 4.124
km3
 

Notes about the table

Other sources list as many as seven eruptions between 1872 and 1876; this table refers to the extended eruptive activity as one eruptive episode following the authors (below).

Eruptive subdivisions include the summit area (S) which consists of vent locations above 3,660 m; (SW) southwest rift zone; (NE) northeast rift zone; and (MKN) north of Moku`aweoweo Caldera. The number of historical eruptions and average rates of lava eruption for each subdivision are shown on this map.

Table Source

Lockwood, J. P., and Lipman, P. W., 1987, Holocene eruptive history of Mauna Loa Volcano, in Decker, R.W., Wright, T.L, and Stauffer, P.H., eds., Volcanism in Hawaii: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1350, v. 1, p. 518.

Eyewitness Accounts of Early Eruptions

Descriptions of the following eruptions appear in Life in Hawai`i by Rev. Titus Coan, published in 1882 and presented online by The Hawai`i Center for Volcanology.

| 1843 | 1852 | 1855-1856 | 1868 & 1877 | Nov 1880 |


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Updated: 17 September 2004 (DAS)