Mauna Loa lava accumulation rates at the Hilo drill site: Formation of lava deltas during a period of declining overall volcanic growth

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By:  and 



Accumulation rates for lava flows erupted from Mauna Loa, as sampled in the uppermost 280 m of the Hilo drill hole, vary widely for short time intervals (several thousand years), but overall are broadly similar to those documented elsewhere on this volcano since 100 ka. Thickness variations and accumulation rates for Mauna Loa lavas at the Hilo drill site have been strongly affected by local paleotopography, including funneling and ponding between Mauna Kea and Kilauea. In addition, gentle submerged slopes of Mauna Kea in Hilo Bay have permitted large shoreline displacements by Mauna Loa flows. Ages of eruptive intervals have been determined from published isotopic data and from eustatic sea level curves modified to include the isostatic subsidence of the island of Hawaii at 2.2-2.6 mm/yr. Prior to 10 ka, rates of Mauna Loa lava accumulation at the drill site varied from 0.6 to 4.3 mm/yr for dateable intervals, with an overall rate of 1.8 mm/yr. Major eruptive pulses at about 1.3 and 10 ka, each probably representing a single long-lived eruption based on lack of weathering between flow units, increase the overall accumulation rate to 2.4 mm/yr. The higher rate since 10 ka reflects construction of thick near-shoreline lava deltas as postglacial sea levels rose rapidly. Large lava deltas form only along coastal segments where initially subaerial slopes have been submerged by the combined effects of eustatic sea level rise, isostatic subsidence, or spreading of volcano flanks. Overall accumulation of 239 m of lava at the drill site since 100-120 ka closely balances submergence of the Hilo area, suggesting that processes of coastal lava deposition have been modulated by rise in sea level. The Hilo accumulation rate is slightly higher than average rates of 1-2 mm/yr determined elsewhere along the Mauna Loa coast, based on rates of shoreline coverage and dated sea cliff and fault scarp exposures. Low rates of coastal lava accumulation since 100 ka, near or below the rate of island-wide isostatic subsidence, indicate that Mauna Loa is no longer growing vigorously or even maintaining its size above sea level.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mauna Loa lava accumulation rates at the Hilo drill site: Formation of lava deltas during a period of declining overall volcanic growth
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/95JB03214
Volume 101
Issue 5
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 11 p.
First page 11631
Last page 11641