East Hawaii News

HVO: Pu`u `O`o Vent a Shadow of its Former Self

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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the birth of Kilauea volcano’s most active vent.

Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Pu`u `O`o became the dominant source of lava in June 1983, five months after the volcano’s current eruption began.

Changes in Pu`u `O`o over a 20-year span. USGS photos.

Changes in the profile of Pu`u `O`o over a 20-year span. USGS photos.

In its latest weekly Volcano Watch column, entitled “Pu`u `O`o hits middle age – and it shows,” HVO said that the cone’s profile has gradually been diminished by collapses and a buildup of  lava around it.

Three years after a vent opened, towering lava fountains had built the pyroclastic cone to a height of 835 feet.

“Today, the once steep-sided pyroclastic cone has been mostly buried beneath a broad ‘shield’ of lava,” HVO said “Only its northern flank has remained unaffected.”

Repeated collapse of the top of Pu`u `O`o has resulted in a large crater at the site of the cone which has lost a third of its 1986 height.

***Updated 10:27 a.m. Friday, June 7, to correct current height of cone.***


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