The Term Paper Volcanoes and the Geographic impact of The Eruptions of Kilauea Kalapana, Hawaii Santa Monica College Geography 5 Brandon Masjedian A volcano is defined as being “an opening on the surface of a planet or moon that allows material warmer than its surrounding to escape from its interior.” (NASA) Magma within the earth accumulates over thousands or millions of years and form these steep-sided cones. Volcanoes are able to be identified as being dormant, active or even extinct but the ones anticipated to have future eruptions or have already had emissions are considered active (Bagley). After a certain amount of pressure accumulates within the interior of the earth, volcanoes erupt molten material. The evolution of volcanoes throughout the years has contributed to the formation and structure of the diverse landscape that makes up the planet (Okuba). These ticking time bombs are usually formed at convergence or divergence of tectonic plates. Like a puzzle, the plates move against each other and cause friction that melts the earth’s crust. The constant movement causes the melting rock to transform into the magma that is found within volcanos. The magma then generates pressure which eventually leads it to the cracks in the plates (Perez). The magma is called lava, once it finally reaches the surface of the Earth. These enormous sections of rock that we know as being tectonic plates are found in the Earth’s crust. Most Volcanic activity usually occurs in oceans because of the plate boundaries at the bottom of oceans(Okuba). During a volcanic eruption, lava,volcanic bomb, ash, and miscellaneous gases are discharged from a volcanic fissure and are able to have a serious effect on the geographical land around them. Volcanoes are able to demonstrate a series of all the characteristics of eruptions or just one during the duration of an outburst. The three varying types of eruptions that impact the geography of the land differently include, magmatic, phreatomagmatic and phreatic eruptions. (Mattox). Some consequences that come from the threatening volcanic vents that discharge gas and lava include large numbers of people being forced to flee, temporary food shortages and volcanic ash landslides (George). For small communities and cities that live near any type of volcano, explosive eruptions can threatening and even fatal. These eruptions have the ability to burst clouds of flaming hot tephra from the side or top of a volcano and can reach hundreds of meters in distance. These hot clouds dash down mountains, demolishing anything in its path. The ash that comes with the eruption, can drop back to land like powdered snow. When the ash and assorted products of the eruption then mix with the water from streams, mudflows are able to form. These mudflows have the ability bury and suffocate communities whole. (Mattox) These Hawaiian volcanoes are present among the Pacific plate. The oldest on the far left, Kauai, stands together with Oahu and Maui (the youngest volcano). These three volcanoes together are known as the Hawaiian Ridge, as it is formed around the solid dense rock in the region. A zone of magma formation is present, known as the fixed “hot spot”, and this is the source of the volcanoes power. It keeps the volcanoes running constands, producing the harsh ash pollution and wreckening the regions air quality. The Hawaiian Islands are known to be volcanic and are each composed of at least one central volcano. The distinct island known as the Big Island, is made up of five primary volcanoes which include Kilauea, Mauna, Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kohala (Rubin). Each Volcano is acknowledged and can be differentiated by distinct characteristics. For example, Mauna Loa is known as being the largest volcano on earth, but Kilauea is still known as being one of the most active and productive. The notorious hot spot is what produced all of these Hawaiian volcanoes and as the pacific plate moves away, the volcano halts and stops erupting just until a new one is formed in its place (Rubin). As the volcanoes age, their crust tends to cool and solidify. With the aging crust and erosion, the island then begins to shrink; this would continue until it is completely submerged below oceans surface (Rubin). Currently there are only three active volcanoes on the island which include, the Mauna Loa, the Loihi and the Kilauea. The Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983 while the Mauna Loa and Loihi volcano stopped erupting in 1984, and 1996 respectively (Rubin). The Kilauea Volcano is located on the southernmost island of Hawaii, and is considered the most active of the five volcano that make up the island of Hawaii (Farbody). In the Hawaiian language, Its name means “much spreading” or “spewing”, which is a reference to its continual outpouring of lava (Perez) .The Kilauea volcano is about 4200 feet tall and has a 165 m deep circular caldera (Perez). This historic volcano acts as a shield volcano and has emerged above sea level about 100,000 year ago;it is estimated to be around 400,000 to 600,000 years old (Perez). This unique volcano mainly flows basaltic lava but is periodically known to explode eruptly (Perez). The Pu`u `O`o Eruption, which is known as the most recent and ongoing eruption of Kilauea began in January 1983 and reached its 31st year of activity on January 3 , 2014 (Lllow). As a result of This eruption, more than 1.9 km3of lava was created on landscape that covered 102 km2 of landscape, and added 205 hectares to Kilauea’s southern shore (Lllow). In the 20th century, there have been at least forty five serious eruptions of Kilauea (Lllow). A broad cloud of toxic gas and white smoke frequently smothers the small town of Pahala near the Volcano, which severely impacted the townspeople’s crops and health(Bagley). In 2009, the gas being released was so toxic that parts of the island have been declared a disaster area. Many of the island residents from towns nearby were notified to “not wait for an alert if they feel ill from the volcanic output” and it has essentially become completely uninhabitable (George). Lava flow made its way through Kalapana and its town before making it to the seat in 1986 (Mattox). In March of 1990, Kilauea recorded that year to be the most destructive eruption period in modern history (Mattox). As a geographical consequence of the eruption, the twenty-five meters of lava demolished one-hundred and eighty-one houses and resurfaced up to thirteen kilometers of highway. This unexpected explosion also destroyed the Royal Gardens subdivision, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitor center, and more than two hundred structures in the town of Kalapana (Llow). According to the U.S. Geological survey, there has been more than sixty recorded eruptions in the current cycle which has been going on since 1983. Not only has the eruptions of the Kilauea volcano substantially alter the terrain, and make it difficult to transverse by car and by walking but it also fatally affected many lives in the area. The Kilauea volcano has only been dormant for eighteen years since 1918 between 1934 and 1952 (Hill). In 1790, the Kilauea Volcano had an eruption that killed at least eighty native Hawaiians whose footprints can now be viewed in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park(Bagley). Despite the great risk and dangers associated with its eruptions, Kilauea seems to remain a popular attraction for tourists. The Kilauea Volcano is located on the southernmost island of Hawaii, and is considered the most active of the five volcano that make up the island of Hawaii (Farbody). In the Hawaiian language, Its name means “much spreading” or “spewing”, which is a reference to its continual outpouring of lava (Perez) .The Kilauea volcano is about 4200 feet tall and has a 165 m deep circular caldera (Perez). This historic volcano acts as a shield volcano and has emerged above sea level about 100,000 year ago;it is estimated to be around 400,000 to 600,000 years old (Perez). This unique volcano mainly flows basaltic lava but is periodically known to explode eruptly (Perez). (Farbody) (Farbody)The homes of local residents in the community of Kalapana, on the Island of Hawaii were destroyed when lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano reached them in 1990. The Island of Kalpana eventually was buried over fifty feet of lava. This has devastatingly affected the region for the worse, as these volcanoes are making it uninhabitable. Vegetation had been lost, homes had been lost, air quality has been lost, who knows what is next to happen. (Bagley) Lava Flowing Across a Road in Kilauea Kalapana, Hawaii. (Daily Mail)This Map prepared by the U.S Geological Survey presents the lava-flow hazard zones for the island based on expected eruption sites. It also shows the expected flows of lava and the geological past. Lava flow made its way through Kalapana and its town before making it to the seat in 1986 (Mattox). In March of 1990, Kilauea recorded that year to be the most destructive eruption period in modern history (Mattox). As a geographical consequence of the eruption, the twenty-five meters of lava demolished one-hundred and eighty-one houses and resurfaced up to thirteen kilometers of highway. This unexpected explosion also destroyed the Royal Gardens subdivision, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitor center, and more than two hundred structures in the town of Kalapana (Llow). According to the U.S. Geological survey, there has been more than sixty recorded eruptions in the current cycle which has been going on since 1983. Not only has the eruptions of the Kilauea volcano substantially alter the terrain, and make it difficult to transverse by car and by walking but it also fatally affected many lives in the area. The Kilauea volcano has only been dormant for eighteen years since 1918 between 1934 and 1952 (Hill). In 1790, the Kilauea Volcano had an eruption that killed at least eighty native Hawaiians whose footprints can now be viewed in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park(Bagley). Despite the great risk and dangers associated with its eruptions, Kilauea seems to remain a popular attraction for tourists. J. Tuzo Wilson proposed a hypothesis as to why the Hawaiian chain where the volcano is unusually placed in the center of the Pacific plate rather than on a tectonic boundary , which was proposed the “hotspot theory”(Okubo). He theorized that its linear geography was due to the movement of the Pacific plate and how its shifted to a immobile position of increasing heat from downward within the Earth (Okubo). As the rocky crust of the volcano is pushed over and the seafloor spreads along the plate boundary, the temperature of the localized hot spot melts the Pacific plate above the hot spot (Lllow). The magma that is produced by the melting rock of the pacific plate rises through the mantle and the crust as a thin thermal plume.; Eventually, the thermal plume forms an active seamount beneath the ocean and causes it to increase in height until the surface penetrates and becomes an island volcano (Lllow). The island then pushes away from the hotspot, and the pacific plate moves northward and makes room for a new island to form on top of the hotspot (Perez). The geographic landscapes and the ecological community of the island of Kilauea itself, is also extremely threatened by the volcano’s activity. The lava flow is burning down sections of the volcanos forests and the ash that comes from the explosive eruptions suffocates the local plant life. This destruction becomes evident when looking at the material at the bottom of Kilauea’s ash deposits and the coatings of carbonized organic matter (Hill). Rainfall near Kilauea’s southwestern rift zone tends to mix with the volcanic sulfur dioxide resulting in acid rain(Hill). This alarming precipitation obstructs regional plant growth, making plant life in the region nonexistent (Perez). The Kilauea Volcano is one of five volcanoes in the Island of Hawaii, Kilauea, but what differentiates this volcano with the rest is that fact that it is known as a shield volcano. Shield volcanoes are usually the largest volcanoes existing on earth, and have active flowing lava. In shield volcanos, there are gentle slopes found at the summit and are produced by basaltic lava flows (Bagley). This type of lava flows for very long distances before actually cooling itself and becoming a solid. The molten lava that came out of the notorious volcano when erupted ranged from 1,292 to 2, 192 Fahrenheit and would incinerate anything in its path (Bagley). Along with destroying thousands of trees and plants in the distance, Kilauea suppressed most of the sandy terrain. The volcano is placed on a natural hot spot, or a region that is ignited by a concealed mantle. The Hawaiian hot spots that are fueled by earth’s mantle are thought to have been active for at least 70 million years. Essentially, volcanic eruptions in this area will never disappear due to that fact that the lava that fuels the volcanoes will always be present. As an active volcano in modern day, Kilauea has the ability to erupt at any given moment with the just right amount of pressure and density. Volcanoes are known to erupt when the magmas density is lower than the rocks that are surrounding it. I would agree with the prediction that in the upcoming years the activity among Kilauea becomes worse and more deadly. It has become evident that that recent eruptions of lava have been shifting towards to the east out a new vent. This new vent is called the Kupaianaha and it is becoming exposed on the earth’s surface. (Daily Mail) (Daily Mail) The picture on the (right) exhibits the Pu’u’O’o vent which is the source of the eruptive activity. The Healemm’uma’u which is on the (left) is the other one of only two active vents located on the top of the crater.The current state of the Kilauea still show frequent eruptions and outbreaks at the summit of the volcano. Although there are not immediate and critical threats to local communities, the surface flow seems to still be very active. Recently there has been officials in the are cautioning visitors and residents to avoid the beach by Kamokuna. They have found that a flow of over 50 g of lava has been entering the ocean and that the rocky surfaces nearby make entry unstable. Besides being able to create dramatic scenery and attract tourists, volcanic eruptions can have a devastating effect on people, the environment and the geography. This was especially the case for the people on the Island of Hawaii, who faced many hazards that came with living near the threatening volcanoes. The eruptions that volcanoes like the Kilauea Kalapana brought, demonstrated the unique power that nature has to shape the land in a dramatic way. Not only can they create beautiful displays of erupting lava, but they can also have damaging consequences on the landscape. 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