Shooting lava

Lava shoots 1,000 feet into the air during a high-fountaining episode of the 1983-to-present Pu'u 'O'o eruption of Kilauea Volcano. (Photograph by J.D. Griggs.)


Viewing an erupting volcano is a memorable experience, one that has inspired fear, superstition, worship, curiosity, and fascination throughout the history of mankind. In modern times, volcanic phenomena have attracted intense scientific interest, because they provide the key to understanding processes that have created and shaped more than 80 percent of the Earth's surface. The active Hawaiian volcanoes have received special attention worldwide because of their frequent spectacular eruptions, which can be viewed and studied with relative ease and safety. In January 1987, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), located on the rim of Kilauea Volcano, celebrated its 75th Anniversary. In honor of HVO's Diamond Jubilee, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published Professional Paper 1350, an up-to-date summary of the many studies on Hawaiian volcanism by the USGS and other scientists. Drawing from the wealth of data contained in that volume, this booklet focuses on selected aspects of the eruptive history, style, and products of two of Hawaii's active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. This general-interest booklet is a companion to the one on Mount St. Helens Volcano published in 1984 (see Selected Readings). Together, these works illustrate the contrast between the two main types of volcanoes: shield volcanoes, such as those in Hawaii, which are typically nonexplosive; and composite volcanoes, such as Mount St. Helens in the Cascade Range, which are renowned for their explosive eruptions.

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Maintained by John Watson
Updated 05.07.97