Photos 8, page 8
Photos 8 -
Photos 8 -
Kilauea Iki CCW
August 17, 2011
Lava fountain 1394 feet tall
11/29/1959, 9:00 AM
Nov. 16, 1959:  The solitary vent was located on
the crater wall about 66 ft above the smaller west
crater of Kilauea Iki (top left). Lava poured through
a breach in the spatter rampart below the lava
fountain and cascaded down the crater wall to join a
narrow channel that led to the larger east crater
(280 ft lower than the west crater). After about 984
ft, the lava channel spilled down the wall of the east
crater (slope ~30°) to form a series of lava rapids.
Nov. 17-21, 1959:  Lava discharge increases, Pu`u Pua`i forms, and lava lake grows deeper
The lava fountain reached heights of 200-260 ft by the early morning of November 17, and cinder, spatter, and pumice were falling onto
the south rim of Kilauea Iki Crater, the leeward side of the vent. The falling fragments began to build a new cinder cone, which was
eventually named
Pu`u Pua`i (gushing hill). The fountain continued to grow in size throughout the day and was reaching heights of 330
ft, with occasional bursts to 590 ft, by early evening. Even as the cone was growing more rapidly because of the high fountains, parts
of it broke loose and slid down into the vent.
As the fountain continued to grow, reaching as high as 1050
ft on November 18 (left) and 1150 ft on November 19 (right),
the lava channel between the west and east craters widened
significantly. Slides from the inner face of the growing cone,
Pu`u Pua`i, or possibly some other constriction of the vent,
occasionally reduced the fountain height. At the same time,
part of the fountain was deflected northward across the lava
river to form spectacular V-shaped fountains (right).
Dec. 5, 1959
Dec. 19, 1959
Dec. 19, 1959
This view from the present-day Kilauea Iki overlook
(called Byron Ledge overlook in 1959) shows the
maximum development of the erupting fissures in
the south wall of the crater about 2.5 hours after
the eruption started. The bright specks on the flows
in the bottom of crater are burning trees. Within the
next 24 hours, activity gradually stopped at all vents
except one, which remained the sole vent for the
rest of the eruption (far right in photograph).
Click image to download PDF trail guide
For some reason, I've always hiked Kilauea Iki in a clockwise direction.  The trail guide takes
Kilauea Iki the other way around!  You never know what you might see differently going in
the other direction!
This loop is advertised (in the guide) as 4 miles long with a 400-foot elevation difference.  My
GPS clocked 3.0 miles exactly with an elevation gain/loss of 231 feet...  So... what?
Anyway, I decided to follow the nifty trail guide and take my own pictures (I've also included
enlargements of the pictures in the trail guide which I stole from the
The 1959 Eruption at
Kilauea Iki web page put up by the USGS)...
Aborted hike on 8/14
My camera broke and it started raining!
8/14, 10:20 AM @ *086
A well-trod trail in the ran forest...

8/17, 1:29 PM @ *033
More trail...
8/14, 10:23 AM @ Stop #1
8/17, 1:31 AM
Images and captions are from the web page.  Images correspond to some of those in the trail guide.
Nov. 14, 1959:  An erupting fissure broke through the south wall of Kilauea Iki Crater at 8:08 p.m. Abruptly, the swarm of
earthquakes stopped, and seismographs around the caldera began to record the strong harmonic tremor characteristic of lava pouring
out from Hawaiian volcanoes. When observers first reached the edge of
Kilauea Iki twenty minutes later, lava fountains 50 ft tall were
erupting from a line of discontinuous fissures about 1300 ft long. Lava was cascading down the steep forested slopes to the bottom of
the crater about 330 ft below.

By 9:30 p.m., as magma continued to force its way to the surface along a narrow pathway, the erupting fissures lengthened to nearly
2625 ft, and the fountains increased to as high as 100 ft. Small forest fires flared up on the crater walls, and burning trees with their
bright yellow flames flashing like giant sparklers were carried swiftly down the lava cascades onto the growing lake of lava, where they
floated slowly across the darkening surface until they burned out.
Stop #2
8/14, 10:31 AM
You can see the weather moving in...

8/17, 1:39 PM
If you look really, really close you might
be able to see people down there...
8/14, 10:38 AM @ Stop #3
Last 8/14 photo, the rest are 8/17
1:41 PM @ *041
A good view of
Pu'u Pua'i and the vent.
There are some people on the nearest
part of the trail...
2:03 PM @ *053
Heading away from the crater, this is
the untouched rain forest referred to in
Stops #4 and #5
2:08 PM @ Stop #6
The top of the trail down into the crater
2:13 PM @ *059
I guess The Park feels confident that
that sucker isn't going to slide...
2:15 PM @ *060
First view of the whole crater...
Just before
Stop #7
2:23 PM @ *070
This is what's described in
Stop #8
2:29 PM @ Step #9
At the vent, looking the other way.  I
came across the top of that ridge,
going left to right.
2:30 PM @ Step #9
Here's the vent...
Beginning at 7:25 p.m. on November 21, 1959, without any apparent warning, the fountain decreased from
a spurting giant 690 ft tall to a few gas bubbles in less than 40 seconds. The first and longest of many
explosive episodes was over.  

Nov. 26 - Dec. 20, 1959: Lava lake & fountains fluctuate during next sixteen episodes

The next sixteen episodes were similar to the first, except for their smaller volumes of erupted lava and
shorter durations. Lava that erupted from the vent collected in the lake, increasing its depth 10-65 ft until
lava rose over the vent and the base of the fountain (except for the final episode, which did not add much
new lava to the lake). As lava covered the base of the fountain, the height of the fountain typically would
fluctuate wildly before stopping altogether. At the end of several episodes, lava began flowing back into the
vent even as the fountain continued.

These drainback events were nearly as stunning and mesmerizing as the awesome fountains, especially at
night. Huge slabs of thickening crust crumbled and were pulled apart by the retreating lava, exposing
molten interiors, and sometimes a giant counter-clockwise whirlpool formed over the vent. Scientists and
other observers worked hard to track the rise and fall of the lake as accurately as possible, so that the
volumes of lava erupting and draining back into the vent could be calculated. The rate of lava draining back
into the vent was often higher than rate of eruption.
2:16 PM @ Stop #7
A nice panorama of the whole shebang
2:33 PM @ Stop #10
2:36 PM @ *081
Looking at
Stop #11
2:58 PM
3:46 PM @ *098
View of the crater from the Kilauea Iki

11/14/59, 10:30 PM
From the same location
It occurred to me that this lava is younger than me!  I was 11 years old when this all happened!
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