Volcaniclastic units cored at depths of about 87, 164, 178, 226, and 246 m below sea level and carbonate units located between depths of 27 and 53 m below sea level in the Hilo drill core were found to be deposited at or near sea level. Four of these units are hydroclastic deposits, formed when subaerially erupted Mauna Loa lava flows entered the ocean and fragmented to produce quenched, glassy fragments during hydrovolcanic explosions. Ash units 24 and 26, at 178 m depth, accumulated at sea level in a freshwater bog. They contain pyroxenes crystallized from tholeiitic magma that we infer erupted explosively at the summit of Kilauea volcano. Two carbon-rich layers from these ashes have a weighted average radiocarbon age of 38.6 ?? 0.9 ka; the ashes probably correlate with the oldest and thickest part of the Pahala ash. Ash unit 44, at the transition from Mauna Kea to Mauna Loa lava flows, was probably nearly 3.2 m thick and is inferred to be equivalent to the lower thick part of the composite Homelani ash mapped in Hilo and on the flanks of Mauna Kea. The age of this part of Homelani ash is between 128 ?? 33 and 200 ?? 10 ka; it may have erupted subglacially during the Pohakuloa glacial maxima on Mauna Kea. Beach sand units 12 and 22 were derived from nearby Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea lava flows. The middle of beach sand unit 38 was derived mainly from lava erupted near the distal end of the subaerial east rift zone of Kilauea volcano; these sands were transported about 33 km northwest to Hilo Bay by prevailing longshore currents. Combined age, depth, and sea level markers in the core allow us to determine that lava flow recurrence intervals averaged one flow every 4 kyr during the past 86 kyr and one flow every 16 kyr between 86 and 200 ka at the drill site and that major explosive eruptions that deposit thick ash in Hilo have occurred only twice in the last 400 kyr. These recurrence intervals support the moderate lava flow hazard zonation (zone 3) for coastal Hilo previously determined from surficial mapping.
Additional publication details
Origin and depositional environment of clastic deposits in the Hilo drill hole, Hawaii