Kīlauea Volcano eruption marks 35 years

Just another day at Kīlauea Volcano: Eruptions continue at the summit and at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent on the island of Hawai‘i. While the ocean spigot is turned off for the moment, lava is still rolling across the higher terrain. Currently it poses no threat to Hawaii island communities.

Thirty-five years ago today, Kīlauea Volcano sprang to life as several fissures broke out on the East Rift Zone. Over the next three years, a series of 44 fountains built what became known as Puʻu ʻŌʻō. In all since Jan. 3, 1983, Kilauea has covered more than 55 square miles of land, added 443 acres of land to the island’s southeastern coast, destroyed 215 structures and buried nearly nine miles of highway with lava as thick as 115 feet, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO).

“It has been virtually a unique opportunity to look at the same eruption over an extended period,” said Michael Garcia, professor of Geology and Geophysics, by telephone Tuesday. This “changed the world of geology,” he said. “One of the most important findings is the way in which lava flows grow. In part they grow by injection. Under the surface you develop a subterranean tube system that inflates the lava flows and allows them to extend for many miles.”

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