Type: Shield volcano with a cinder cone
Hawaii's famous Kilauea volcano emerged from the sea more than 50,000 years ago, and it has been active ever since.
Kilauea, formed from an intraplate hot spot, is the most studied volcano in the world. Composed mostly of lava flows, Kilauea also has some deposits from explosive eruptions. It has erupted from three main areas: its summit and two rift zones.
Most of Kilauea's eruptions are relatively gentle lava
flows. Lava fountains often shoot the molten magma
high in the air before it flows down the mountain's
slopes. A spectacular lava fountain during a 1959
eruption from the Kilauea Iki vent soared 1,900 feet (580
meters), a record for a Hawaiian eruption.
Infrequentlyevery few decades or centuriespowerful eruptions send volcanic debris across the area.
Kilauea's constant lava eruptions have built up the
volcano and given it a shieldlike form that is still
growing. Currently the shield is about 50 miles (80
kilometers) long and 15 miles (24 kilometers) wide.
The current eruption began in 1983 and has been
continuous ever since. It is the most long-lived
eruption in documented times.
In the future, scientists say, Kilauea will continue its pattern. Sporadic explosions will cause some destruction, but for the most part the volcano will continue to "drool."
Eruptions will fill the caldera
and heighten the summitconstantly renovating and
adding on to the legendary ancient home of Pele, the Hawaiian