Hawaiʻi's Youngest Submarine Volcano
View of Lōʻihi Seamount northwest from a perspective high above and to the southeast of the Island of Hawaiʻi (green). Lōʻihi Seamount is in bottom center of image.
Lōʻihi Seamount is an active volcano built on the seafloor south of Kilauea about 30 km from shore. The seamount rises to 969 m below sea level and generates frequent earthquake swarms, the most intense of which occurred in 1996. An eruption at Lōʻihi has yet to be observed, but scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi have recently made many submersible dives to the volcano and deployed instruments on its summit to study Lōʻihi in much greater detail.
The summit of Lōʻihi is marked by a caldera-like depression 2.8 km wide and 3.7 km long. Three collapse pits or craters occupy the southern part of the caldera; the most recent pit formed during an intense earthquake swarm in July-August 1996. Named Pele's Pit, the new crater is about 600 m in diameter and its bottom is 300 m below the previous surface! Like the volcanoes on the Island of Hawaiʻi, Lōʻihi has grown from eruptions along its 31-km-long rift zone that extends northwest and southeast of the caldera.
Lōʻihi Seamount InformationLōʻihi page, maintained by the Hawaiʻi Center for Volcanology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaiʻi in Manoa.
Summary of 1996 Activity
Description of the intense earthquake swarm in July-August 1996 and the changes observed in Lōʻihi's summit caldera; prepared by scientists of the Hawaiʻi Center for Volcanology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaiʻi Manoa. More than 4,000 earthquakes were recorded by HVO's seismic network during this swarm.
Summary of Lōʻihi activity reported in the monthly Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, Smithsonian Institution. All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.
The name Lōʻihi means "long" in Hawaiian and was introduced in 1955 to describe the elongate shape of the seamount. More recently, Hawaiian scholars have found that stories of "Kamaʻehu," the red island child of Haumea (earth) and Kanaloa (sea) that rises from the deep in the ocean floor may also be a reference to this submarine volcano. (https://www.edithkanakaolefoundation.org/halau-o-kekuhi/productions-performances/)
Lōʻihi Volcano Facts
18.92 N 155.27 W
Elev. Below Sea Level
Height Above Sea Floor
Lōʻihi is built on the seafloor that slopes about 5 degrees beneath the seamount. Lōʻihi's northern base is 1,900 m below sea level, whereas its southern base is 4,755 m below sea level. Thus, the summit is about 931 m above the seafloor as measured from the base of its north flank and 3,786 m above the seafloor as measured from the base of its south flank.
Most Recent Activity
Earthquake Swarm (>4,000 events), July 16-August 9, 1996
Hawaiian Volcano Stage
In transition between pre-shield and shield stage
Malahoff, Alexander, 1987, Geology of the summit of Lōʻihi submarine volcano, in Decker, R.W., Wright, T.L., and Stauffer P. H., (eds.), Volcanism in Hawaiʻi: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1350, p. 133-144.
The 1996 Lōʻihi Science Team, 1997, Researchers rapidly respond to submarine activity at Lōʻihi volcano, Hawaiʻi: EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 78, no. 22, June 3, 1997, p. 229-233.
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13 May 2015 (pnf)