Previous Pu`u `O`o Eruption Episodes of Kilauea Volcano
(episode 54 - Napau Crater)

Lava flows from episode 54 fissure E in Napau Crater came right up to the edge of the forest. Photo taken by Ken Rubin on 24 May 1997, some 4 months after the eruption.


30 Jan-17 Feb 1997: Activity initiates and then dies at Napau Crater -- then Kilauea goes silent
Is this the end of the 14-year long Pu`u `O`o eruption?

This page contains update information from Episode 54 of the Pu`u `O`o eruption of Kilauea Volcano. Please see the eruption update page for more recent activity at Kilauea, including the second half of Episode 55

    The newest episode of activity of the Pu`u `O`o eruption began on Jan. 30 at about 2:43 AM in Napau Crater, about 4 km uprift from the main site of venting over the last 5 years at the Pu`u `O`o cone. The "Pu`u `O`o" eruption originally started in 1983 at Napau Crater and has now returned to this site. This newest event is being called "episode 54" by the staff of HVO. This area of Kilauea is fairly remote, so we are fortunate to have reports from campers near the area, who heard hissing sounds and saw an orange glow from the crater, helping to establish the time of the start of the eruption. Below is a chronology of events in this new phase of activity. You will also find maps of Napau Crater showing the new lava flows and a map of Kilauea's East Rift Zone giving the spatial relationship between this and previous activity in the Pu`u `O`o eruption.

Precursor events: Jan 29.
   Harmonic tremor was recorded on seismograph near the new eruption site for ~7 1/2 hours. The tremor was accompanied by deflation of the summit of Kilauea (17 microradians), which lasted about 8 hours. Deflation of the summit has continued to 21 microradians. This large deflation of the summit magma reservoir is thought to indicate that a large volume of magma has been intruded into the east rift zone of the volcano to fed this eruption.
    FIG. 1 Napau crater is shown in the image below. The orange areas represent very recent flow activity, with letters A-F indicating individual short-lived vents from which lava poured.

The eruption:
   Jan 30

   Jan 31    Feb 1    Feb 2-16    Feb 17

What about the Pu`u `O`o Vent?
    While this activity was occurring at Napau crater, the Pu`u `O`o cone was collapsing and the crater within it became ~100 m deeper. By 11 AM, the crater was ~200 m below the rim of the cone and was continuing to collapse, producing plumes of red dust that rose 800 m into the air in the process. Lava has stopped moving through the lava tube downhill from the Pu`u `O`o cone.

Jan-Feb 1997, Recent Activity at Kilauea

   FIG. 2 This map shows the Kilauea East Rift Zone and the surface flow activity since 1983. Since 1992, surface flow activity has been restricted to the western 1/3 of the overall flow region (shown in the wine color). Napau crater and the very recent flow activity is also shown (in orange).
This synopsis was written by Mike Garcia and Ken Rubin using information kindly provided by: The U.S.Geological Survey's Hawaii Volcano Observatory (formal press releases from this source were based upon the work of a great number of individuals including those listed below; the information on this web page was modified for consumption by the general public and non-volcano specialists)
  1. Don Swanson
  2. Carl Thornber
  3. Dave Sherrod
  4. Frank Trusdale
  5. James Kauahikaua
  6. Laszlo Keszthelyi
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The The US Geological Survey-Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has provided much of the factual material contained in the reports above, but is not directly responsible for editorial changes or enhancements made by the HCV (the Hawaii Center for Volcanology) web staff, nor does it claim responsiblity in any way for the interpretive content of these pages. HVO has a new website presently under construction where some of this information will one day be available. In addition to this site, Dr. Gerard Fryer of SOEST also maintains a second web site (as a service to HVO) where the "HVO Volcano Watch" newsletter is posted. Many details about Kilauea volcano can be found there.

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Last page update on 23 Mar 1998