Volcano Watch: What do we know about the Kulanaokuaiki Tephra of Kilauea volcano?

Stratigraphic column of the Kulanaokuaiki Tephra sequence, and an in-the-field look at this section with closer photographs of subunits K-1, K-3, and K-5. At some localities, there are interbedded lava flows that help correlate units across larger distances on Kilauea volcano. (Abigail Nalesnik/USGS)

A paint brush is very useful to discern individual Kulanaokuaiki Tephra units by clearing away overlying younger ash and Pele’s hair. At this field site on the south flank of Kilauea, the Kulanaokuaiki Tephra is overlain by Observatory Shield lava flows and underlain by the Kipuka Nene lava flows. This helps give great time constraints to the deposition of this tephra. (Kendra J. Lynn/USGS)

Kilauea’s recent summit eruptions and lava lakes are exciting for residents, visitors, and scientists. However, Klauea has had numerous explosive eruptions in the last 2,000 years that remain poorly understood.