Hawaiian Volcano 

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View of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory atop Uwekahuna Bluff
Photograph by D.A. Swanson on August 4, 1998

View is from the north caldera rim toward the western caldera wall and Uwekahuna Bluff, the highest point along the innermost caldera rim at 1,243 m. Uwekahuna means "weeping of the kahunas" and is a place where native Hawaiian priests kept constant vigil and chanted to appease the volcano goddess, Pele.

The steep 135-m tall bluff provides the highest and longest continuous cross-sectional exposure of the Kilauea's summit interior. In the exposure directly below the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, geologists have identified at least 63 different lava flows and two thick tephra deposits formed by explosive eruptions. These tephra deposits include the Keanakako`i Ash Member (latest eruption in A.D. 1790) at the top of the bluff and the estimated 2,100 to 2,800 year-old Uwekahuna Ash Member near the base of the bluff. Rockfalls from the caldera wall in 1983 buried the thickest outcrop of Uwekahuna Ash, but good exposures are still visible in parts of the bluff.

The prominent light-colored layer in the middle of the bluff is a lava flow about 3.3 m thick; the thicker reddish layer just above is composed of many thin, probably collapsed, shelly pahoehoe flows about 7 m thick.

Although lava flows erupted from Mauna Loa abut the west slope of Kilauea about 1 km from the caldera rim, geologists have not found any Mauna Loa flows interbedded with Kilauea flows in Uwekahuna Bluff.

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Updated: 15 September 1998