By: Jeremy Dodson
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii and the Hawaiian Islands are the cone-shaped tops of gigantic ocean volcanoes.
Located in the southeast region of the Island of Hawaii, Kilauea sits on the flank (or the side) of the active Mauna Loa volcano, and is one of five shield volcanoes that together form the Island of Hawaii.
Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, and it is the youngest. Kilauea stands just under 4,200 feet tall above sea level at its highest point.
The staff of the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory currently lists Kilauea’s Volcano Alert Level as WATCH and its Aviation Color Code as ORANGE. Kilauea is studied and constantly monitored because of its continuous lava flow.
Kilauea is a broad shield volcano which is a gently sloping mountain made from a large number of usually very fluid lava flows. It is also locally interbedded with deposits of explosive eruptions.
Eruptions at Kilauea happen mainly either from the summit caldera or along either of two long rift zones (East and Southwest) that extend from the caldera and run approximately parallel to the coastline and extend to the sea on both sides. Rift zones are fractured zones of weakness within the volcano.
The Southwest rift zone is very active and has a desert effect. The crater located at this rift is called Pu’u ‘O’o; the East rift zone is called the Kupaianaha crater. Steam and sulfur vents can be seen and smelt in different areas on Kilauea.
The surface of Kilauea is about 90% lava flow less than 1,100 years old, and 70% of the surface is younger than 600 years.
The Kilauea summit caldera is about two miles wide and more than three miles long. A caldera is the actual caving in of the top of the mountain. The summit caldera houses the crater. The high summit of Kilauea is caused by more frequent eruptions than other locations on the volcano....