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Kilauea volcano began to erupt on September 13, 1977, after a 21.5-month period of quiescence. Harmonic tremor in the upper and central east rift zone and rapid deflation of the summit area occurred for 22 hours before the outbreak of surface activity. On the first night, spatter ramparts formed along a discontinuous, en-echelon, 5.5-km-long fissure system that trends N70??E between two prehistoric cones, Kalalua and Puu Kauka. Activity soon became concentrated at a central vent that erupted sporadically until September 23 and extruded flows that moved a maximum distance of 2.5 km to the east. On September 18, new spatter ramparts began forming west of Kalalua, extending to 7 km the length of the new vent system. A vent near the center of this latest fissure became the locus of sustained fountaining and continued to extrude spatter and short flows intermittently until September 20. The most voluminous phase of the eruption began late on September 25. A discontinuous spatter rampart formed along a 700-m segment near the center of the new, 7-km-long fissure system; within 24 hours activity became concentrated at the east end of this segment. One flow from the 35-m-high cone that formed at this site moved rapidly southeast and eventually reached an area 10 km from the vent and 700 m from the nearest house in the evacuated village of Kalapana. We estimate the total volume of material produced during this 18-day eruption to be 35 ?? 106 m3. Samples from active vents and flows are differentiated quartz-normative tholeiitic basalt, similar in composition to lavas erupted from Kilauea in 1955 and 1962. Plagioclase is the only significant phenocryst; augite, minor olivine, and rare orthopyroxene and opaque oxides accompany it as microphenocrysts. Sulfide globules occur in fresh glass and as inclusions in phenocrysts in early 1977 lavas; their absence in chemically-similar basalt from the later phases of the eruption suggests that more extensive intratelluric degassing occurred as the eruption proceeded. Bulk composition of lavas varied somewhat during the eruption, but the last basalt produced also is differentiated, suggesting that the magma withdrawn from the summit reservoir during the rapid deflation has not yet been erupted. ?? 1980.