Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 74, Issue 1, pp 67–78 | Cite as

Rootless shield and perched lava pond collapses at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai'i

  • Matthew R. Patrick
  • Tim R. Orr
Research Article


Effusion rate is a primary measurement used to judge the expected advance rate, length, and hazard potential of lava flows. At basaltic volcanoes, the rapid draining of lava stored in rootless shields and perched ponds can produce lava flows with much higher local effusion rates and advance velocities than would be expected based on the effusion rate at the vent. For several months in 2007–2008, lava stored in a series of perched ponds and rootless shields on Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai'i, was released episodically to produce fast-moving 'a'ā lava flows. Several of these lava flows approached Royal Gardens subdivision and threatened the safety of remaining residents. Using time-lapse image measurements, we show that the initial time-averaged discharge rate for one collapse-triggered lava flow was approximately eight times greater than the effusion rate at the vent. Though short-lived, the collapse-triggered 'a'ā lava flows had average advance rates approximately 45 times greater than that of the pāhoehoe flow field from which they were sourced. The high advance rates of the collapse-triggered lava flows demonstrates that recognition of lava accumulating in ponds and shields, which may be stored in a cryptic manner, is vital for accurately assessing short-term hazards at basaltic volcanoes.


Hawaii Kilauea Lava pond Rootless shield Lava surge 



We thank Andrew Harris, who suggested contrasting local effusion rate with longer-term supply rate at the vent and Scott Rowland, who discussed toothpaste lava and seeps. From HVO, Jim Kauahikaua provided helpful reviews, Kelly Wooten contributed to field observations and time-lapse image analysis, David Wilson provided seismic analysis, and Jeff Sutton provided data on gas emissions. David Okita piloted our weekly helicopter flights, provided invaluable observations and discussion, and helped us recognize the nature of the rootless shields. Reviews by D. Sherrod, R. McGimsey, S. Calvari, M. James, and J. McPhie improved the paper and are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hawaiian Volcano Observatory—US Geological SurveyHawaiiUSA

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