Hawaii Volcanoes: Did You Know?

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We get a lot of questions about Hawaii volcanoes. Here's some answers to your most pressing Hawaii volcano questions:

HOW HOT ARE HAWAII VOLCANOES?

Very hot!! Here are some temperatures recorded at different times and locations:

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  • The temperature of basalt lava at Kilauea reaches 1,160 degrees Celsius (2,120 degrees Fahrenheit). -- USGS/VHP Website, 1998
  • The tube system (lava tubes) of episode 53 (Pu'u O'o eruption, Hawaii) carried lava for 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the vent to the sea. So efficient were the tubes in containing heat that lava cooled only 10 degrees Celsius across that distance. When it reached the ocean, the lava was still a sizzling 1,140 degrees Celsius (2,085 degrees Fahrenheit). -- USGS/HVO Volcano Watch, November 14, 1987
  • The temperature of the lava in the tubes is about 1,250 degrees Celsius (2,200 degrees Fahrenheit). -- USGS/HVO Volcano Watch, June 4, 1998
  • By way of its color, incandescent rock gives a crude estimate of temperature. For example, orange-to-yellow colors are emitted when rocks (or melt) are hotter than about 900 degrees Celsius (1,650 degrees Fahrenheit). Dark-to-bright cherry red is characteristic as material cools to 630 degrees Celsius (1,165 degrees Fahrenheit). Faint red glow persists down to about 480 degrees Celsius (895 degrees Fahrenheit). For comparison, a pizza oven is operated at temperatures ranging from 260 to 315 degrees Celsius (500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit). -- USGS/HVO Volcano Watch, November 14, 1997

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HOW BIG ARE THE HAWAII VOLCANOES?

The Hawaiian shield volcanoes are the largest mountains on Earth. Mauna Kea Volcano rises 13,796 feet above sea level but extends about 19,700 feet below sea level to meet the deep ocean floor, its total height is nearly 33,500 feet, considerably higher than the height of the tallest mountain on land, Mount Everest (Chomolungma) in the Himalayas (29,028 feet above sea level). Mauna Loa stands not quite as high as Mauna Kea but is much larger in volume.

Source:

Tilling, R.I., Heliker, C., and Swanson, D.A, 2010, Eruptions of Hawaiian Volcanoes: Past, Present, and Future: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 117, 62 p.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPAL VOLCANOES OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS?

The principal volcanoes of the Hawaii Islands (from northwest (oldest) to southeast (youngest)) are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Kahoolawe, and Hawaii (Big Island).

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