Monday, October 24, 2011

Special Report on Mauna Kea

Whoops! This almost slipped my mind!

Mauna Kea volcano on the big island of Hawaii has been jolted by some large and somewhat deep earthquakes just NW of the summit. The below snapshot from HVO (Hawaii Volcano Observatory to whom the picture is copyrighted , details the ongoing volcanic swarm below the tallest volcano on Hawaii.

Another image taken from Google Earth with the USGS KMZ layer installed shows a more detailed picture (below)

Mauna Kea does not have a record of ever having erupted during historical time and shows glacial moraines. The last known eruption occurred during the early holocene.

Many volcanologists including John Seach state that Mauna Kea is NOT a dead volcano, and assertively state that it WILL erupt in the future due to remnant magma chambers from when it was young and active. So the current swarm isn't entirely unusual, but it does appear a bit ominous.

The big island of Hawaii is one of the most volcanically active regions on the planet. Hualalai volcano last erupted in 1801 producing a voluminous lava flow that reached the sea and buried towns. Mauna Loa (the 2nd highest by a margin of only 35m) volcano last erupted in 1984 and was one of the largest eruptions in Hawaii's history, save for Kiluea which has been active since 1983 and in continuous eruption ever since, with no signs of slowing down.

If Mauna Kea should erupt, it will likely produce a flank cinder cone, and pahoehoe lava flows. Given the placement and distribution of the current quake swarm (which continues today), I would suspect this is the most likely possibility. Farmlands, and the nearby towns of Waimea and Kamuela would conceivably lie in the path of a pahoehoe flow if it ends up being a large one.

Hawaii is no stranger to volcanic destruction, which was the case recently with the town of Kalapana which was literally paved over by Kiluea. Mauna Loa caused widespread damage to towns and roads when it last erupted. Keep your eyes peeled on this one! An eruption is not considered imminent at this time, and the quakes at Mauna Kea are some 18KM deep at this time. If they get shallower, it might be time to get concerned... or get the cameras ready!

1 comment:

  1. As an update to this article, after analysis of depth vs timescale, it does appear magma is RISING. The oldest quakes were at a depth of 20 km, and the newer ones are at 17km...


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