Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Cutaway view of the east rift zone of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i

Cuttaway view of Kilauea Volcano and the east rift zone, Hawai`i
Diagram by J. Johnson, 2000
This simplified cutaway view (not to scale) of Kilauea Volcano shows the pathway of molten rock during the eruption of Pu`u `O`o, located on the east rift zone about 20 km from the caldera. Molten rock moves from the magma reservoir beneath the caldera through the east rift zone to Pu`u `O`o. When molten rock erupts as lava from Pu`u `O`o, it flows either onto the surface or through a lava-tube system 10-11 km to the sea.

During episode 54 (January 30, 1997), lava erupted from Napau Crater about 4 km uprift from Pu`u `O`o. The rift zone widened about 1.8 m in Napau and 36 cm about 2 km uprift, as magma forced a pathway to the surface (see summary of GPS measurements). Chemical studies of lava samples from episode 54 indicate that two separate and distinct bodies of magma, stored in the rift zone near Napau Crater for many years, supplied lava for the eruptive activity.

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Updated: 5 June 2000 (SRB)