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History of Kilauea Volcano

History of Kilauea Volcano

Join us as we trace the history of Kilauea to find out some interesting facts about this volcano which tops the USGS list of most dangerous volcanoes of the United States. Continue reading.....
Abhijit Naik
Kilauea happens to be one of the five shield volcanoes which come together to form the state of Hawaii in the United States. It is one of the most active volcanoes of the world, with no signs of prolonged periods of quiescence in its history. If the ongoing eruption - which began on 3rd January, 1983, is excluded, as many as 34 eruptions have been recorded at the Kilauea since 1952. Even though the oldest dated samples put the age of rock on this volcano at 230,000 years, the actual history of this volcano can be traced back to more than 300,000 years ago.

Kilauea Volcano History

Kilauea is one of the most studied volcanoes in the world, with most of the information about it being attributed to studies of surface exposure and drill hole samples carried out by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It is very difficult to determine as to exactly when the first eruption of Kilauea took place, with the geological evidence suggesting that the same happened somewhere around 300,000 to 600,000 years ago. Since then however, this volcano has always been active with continuous eruptions once in a while and not a single sign of prolonged periods of quiescence. It is believed that the continuous eruptions of this volcano resulted in the formation of Kilauea Island somewhere around 50,000-100,000 years ago.

Eruption History of Kilauea

The written records available with the USGS give a detailed account of Kilauea eruptions from 1820. Even though there do exist mentions of eruptions of Kilauea prior to 1820 - for instance the one which occurred in 1790 allegedly killed a party of warriors (in various sources), the details of these eruptions are not available. Even though this volcano is known for its non-explosive eruptions today, there have been explosive eruptions here in the past - the one in 1924 being one of the best examples of the same. While the 1959 eruption of Kilauea was also explosive, it is more often remembered for the spectacular display of lava fountain. In the 20th century, this volcano erupted around 45 times - the last of which came in 1983 and continues even today more than 25 years after it began. As of today, this eruption has covered 45.17 sq miles of Kilauea Island, and resulted in formation of 230 hectares of new land at the sea.

Kilauea in Mythology and Folklore

As with most of the Hawaiian volcanoes, even Kilauea has a place in the mythology and folklore. In fact, the Hawaiian religion has several references of Kīlauea being the home of Pele - the goddess of volcanoes. The belief that lava formations of Kilauea are symbols of the wrath and anguish of Pele still finds a place in the minds of people of Hawaii. On the other hand, the name of this volcano 'Kīlauea' is a Hawaiian term meaning 'spewing' or 'much spreading' in context of continuous flow of lava from this volcano which has been active since it came into existence.

Even though Mount Kilauea volcano has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in this part of the world today, it is still considered to be the most dangerous volcano in the United States by the experts at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). This may come as a surprise for many considering that Kilauea is quite popular among volcanologists, and - as we mentioned above, happens to be one of the most studied volcanoes of the world. Basically, the notoriety of being the most dangerous that this volcano has earned can be attributed to the widespread destruction that it has caused over the period of time.
Volcanic activity Hawaii
Kilauea Volcano
Kilauea Volcano Crater