Volcano Watch: Hualalai’s Wahapele eruption: cone-building, explosive phreatic activity and lava flows

  • USGS graphic This map shows the location of the Wahapele vent (star) and lava flow (red) on Hualalai volcano. The approximate boundary between Hualalai and Mauna Loa is indicted by a dashed line. The lava flow extends 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) farther into the ocean. The inset map shows the entire Island of Hawaii, with approximate volcano boundaries indicated with a thick grey line. All eruptions since 1800 are shaded grey, with the exceptions of Kilauea’s 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption (blue) and Hualalai's recent eruptions (1800-1801 and earlier, in peach). Geology is from Sherrod and others (2021).

Hualalai erupts much less often than its neighbors, with centuries rather than years or decades separating eruptions. The most recent documented activity was an earthquake swarm in 1929, which likely corresponded to an intrusion of magma into the volcano. Its most recent eruption occurred in 1800–01, and the erupted lava flows from 1800–01 underlie almost the entire Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole. Future eruptions from Hualalai may pose a direct threat to Kailua-Kona and the surrounding communities.