Hawaiian Eruptions

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lava fountain
Lava fountain during the April 3, 1984 eruption of Mauna Loa. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.

NPS Photo by Bob Serber.


Hawaiian-style eruptions are non-explosive eruptions of gusher-like lava fountains (“fire fountains” or “curtains of fire”) that generate red-hot lava rivers of very fluid basaltic lavas. Hawaiian eruptions are typical for shield volcanoes, where eruptions take place both at the summit and at fissure vents.

  • Typical magma composition: basaltic

  • Description: Effusive (nonexplosive)

  • Eruption Products: Pahoehoe lava flows. Pele’s tears, Pele’s hair, and spatter.

  • National Park examples: Mauna Loa and Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Featured Videos

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Fountaining spatter cone and lava lake within Halemaʻumaʻu crater as seen from the eruption viewing area near Keanakākoʻi Overlook. December 20, 2021

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Lava cascaded from the wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater into a pool at the bottom, shortly after the summit eruption began on December 20, 2020. Video by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Kīlauea Summit Eruption (Feb 11, 2021)

Related Links

Part of a series of articles titled Volcanic Eruption Styles.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Last updated: May 16, 2022