Mount Kilauea

Facts about Kilauea Volcano, it's history and current eruptions


Pauahi Crater

Pauahi Crater is located approximately 3 miles along Chain of Craters Road and is one of it's more impressive features. This depression is 2000 feet long (610 metres) and about 300 feet deep (90 metres) with 2300 mm annual precipitation.
Pauahi Crater consists of three overlapping prehistoric pit craters. These pit craters cut across prehistoric lava flows and ash layers roughly 350-500 years old. Most of the pit craters along the East Rift Zone have complex histories which include multiple collapse events.

Three eruptions have occurred near Pauahi Crater in historical time: May, November 1973 and November 1979
The November 1973 eruption lasted a total of 31 days but most of the activity was during the first 10 hours of the first day. Two fissures opened in Pauahi Crater within minutes of each other, and lava began to pool in both the east and west pits of the crater. The lava not only flowed in from the fissures but also erupted from the crater itself and created a huge lava lake at the bottom of the crater.
The November 1979 eruption lasted only 1 day and was preceeded by swarm of small earthquakes started abruptly on 15 November. During the peak of the swarm, as many as 20 earthquakes per hour shook the ground beneath the Pauahi Crater area.

Trip Information

Pauahi Crater can be interesting stop in your trip to Volcanoes National Park and Mount Kilauea Volcano. At Pauahi Crater there is stationed a parking and a short boardwalk to a great photographic view. While you are at the end of the boardwalk enjoying the view of Pauahi Crater, turn around and note the fissure behind you. You can step off the boardwalk and walk into the fissure, as there are a number of interesting shapes. These fissures spewed lava in fountains much of which came down around the fissures themselves. The molten lava splashed on the nearby rocks creating the bizarre shapes that you can see in this area.

As with many of the other craters Pauahi Crater holds religious significance to the Hawaiians. Often you will see Ti leaf wrapped packages, fruit, leis or other gifts sitting near the edge of the crater. These are gifts to the crater and the gods and should not be disturbed.

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