/kee'low ay"ah, -ay"euh, kil'oh-/, n.a crater on Mauna Loa volcano, on SE Hawaii island, in Hawaii. 2 mi. (3.2 km) wide; 4040 ft. (1231 m) high.
* * *Crater, eastern side of Mauna Loa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, U.S. The world's largest active volcanic crater, it is about 3 mi (5 km) long, 2 mi (3.2 km) wide, and 500 ft (150 m) deep, lying at an altitude of 4,090 ft (1,250 m).In its floor is the vent known as Halemaumau Pit, legendary home of the fire goddess Pele. Its frequent eruptions are usually contained within the vent as a boiling lake of lava, but occasionally the lava escapes; since 1983 a series of eruptions produced lava that reached the sea 30 mi (48 km) away.
* * *the world's largest active volcanic mass, located on southeastern Hawaii Island, Hawaii, U.S. The central feature of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea (“Much Spreading”) is an elongated dome built of lava eruptions from a central crater and from lines of craters extending along east and southwest rifts, or fissures. The volcano's 4,090-foot (1,250-metre) summit has collapsed to form a caldera, a broad shallow depression nearly 3 miles (5 km) long and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide with an area of more than 4 square miles (10 square km). Kilauea's slopes merge with those of the nearby volcano Mauna Loa on the west and north.During the 19th century, the main floor of Kilauea's caldera went through several periods of lava filling and collapse. By 1919 it assumed its present depth of 500 feet (150 m). The floor, paved with recent lava flows, contains the Halemaumau (“Fern House”) Pit, an inner crater that is Kilauea's most active vent. Halemaumau is the legendary home of Pele, the Hawaiian fire goddess. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is at Uwekahuna on the western rim of Kilauea, near Halemaumau.Kilauea's frequent eruptions are usually nonexplosive and are contained within Halemaumau as a boiling lake of active lava, which sometimes rises and overflows along the floor and flanks of the caldera proper. But, in 1790, a paroxysmal steam explosion killed part of a Hawaiian army marching near the caldera. A less-violent eruption in 1924 enlarged the Halemaumau crater to a depth of 1,300 feet (400 m). In 1955, an eruption in the east rift, accompanied by a series of violent quakes, was one of the most destructive in the island's history, with lava pouring from fissures over a period of 88 days, destroying a village and more than 6 square miles (16 square km) of valuable canelands and orchards. A similar but shorter-lived occurrence in 1975 was followed by destructive tidal waves. In a series of eruptions that began in 1983, Kilauea produced a river of flowing lava that reached the sea 30 miles (48 km) south of the volcano.Kilauea Iki, a crater directly east of Kilauea, erupted spectacularly in 1959, creating a 400-foot- (120-metre-) deep lake of molten lava and Puu Puai (Gushing Hill), a cinder cone near its southern rim. The east rift zone supports numerous pit craters ending in Makaopuhi (depth 1,000 feet). Mauna Iki (3,032 feet [924 m]), situated 6 miles (9.5 km) from Kilauea on the southwest rift zone, is a low volcanic dome in a desert area.Kilauea is bordered by the volcano of Mauna Loa (west and north), the Kau Desert (southwest), Ainahou Ranch (south), and a tropical fern jungle (north-northeast). The littoral Kau Desert consists of barren lava, crusted volcanic ash, and moving dunes of wind-blown ash and pumice 10–30 feet (3–9 m) high. The Thurston Lava Tube, a 450-foot (135-metre) tunnel east of the caldera, was formed when a lava stream's outer crust hardened while the molten lava continued its flow. Kipuka Puaula (also called Bird Park) to the northwest, a grassy meadow dotted with clumps of koa, ohia, soapberry, kolea, and mamani trees, has a nature trail leading to an open forest with many varieties of native trees.
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