Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Vesiculation of high fountaining Hawaiian eruptions: episodes 15 and 16 of 1959 Kīlauea Iki

  • 414 Accesses

  • 28 Citations


The 1959 summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano produced the highest recorded Hawaiian fountain in Hawai‘i. Quantitative analysis of closely spaced samples from the final two high-fountaining episodes of the eruption result in a fine-scale textural study of pyroclasts and provide a record of postfragmentation processes. As clast vesicularity increases, the vesicle number density decreases and vesicle morphology shifts from small and round to larger and more irregular. The shift in microtexture corresponds to greater degrees of postfragmentation expansion of clasts with higher vesicularity. We suggest the range of clast morphologies in the deposit is related to thermal zonation within a Hawaiian fountain where the highest vesicularity clasts traveled in the center and lowest traveled along the margins. Vesicle number densities are greatest in the highest fountaining episode and therefore scale with intensity of activity. Major element chemical analyses and fasciculate crystal textures indicate microlite-rich zones within individual clasts are portions of recycled lava lake material that were incorporated into newly vesiculating primary melt.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11


  1. Alparone S, Andronico D, Lodato L, Sgroi T (2003) Relationship between tremor and volcanic activity during the Southeast Crater eruption on Mount Etna in early 2000. J Geophys Res 108:2241–2254

  2. Anderson AT, Brown GG (1993) CO2 contents and formation pressures of some Kilauean melt inclusions. Am Miner 78:794–803

  3. Andronico D, Cristaldi A, Scollo S (2008) The 4–5 September 2007 lava fountain at South-East Crater of Mt Etna, Italy. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 173:325–328

  4. Bertagnini A, Calvari S, Coltelli M, Landi P, Pompilio M, Scribano V (1990) The 1989 eruptive sequence. In: Barberi F, Bertagnini A, Landi P (eds). In: Mt. Etna: the 1989 eruption. Giardini: Pisa. pp 10–22

  5. Bottinga Y, Weill DF (1970) Densities of liquid silicate systems calculated from partial molar volumes of oxide components. American Journal of Science 269:169–182

  6. Eaton JP, Richter DH, Krivoy HL (1987) Cycling of magma between the summit reservoir and Kīlauea Iki lava lake during the 1959 eruption of Kīlauea volcano. In: Decker RW, Wright TL, Stauffer PH (eds). Volcanism in Hawai‘i. US Geol Sury Prof Pap, 1350: 1307–1334

  7. Gardner JE, Thomas RME, Jaupart C, Tait S (1996) Fragmentation of magma during Plinian volcanic eruptions. Bull Volcanol 58:144–162

  8. Gerlach TM (1986) Exsolution of H2O, CO2, and S during eruptive episodes at Kīlauea volcano, Hawai‘i. J Geophys Res 91:12177–12185

  9. Grove TL, Raudsepp M (1978) Effects of kinetics on the crystallization of quartz normative basalt 15597: an experimental study. Proc Lunar Planet Sci Conf 9:585–599

  10. Gurioli L, Harris AJL, Houghton BF, Polacci M, Ripepe M (2008) Textural and geophysical characterization of explosive basaltic activity at Villarrica volcano. J Geophys Res 113:B08206. doi:10.1029/2007JB005328

  11. Heliker C, Mattox TN (2003) The first two decades of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō-Kupaianaha eruption: chronology and selected bibliography, The Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō-Kupaianaha eruption of Kīlauea volcano, Hawai‘i: the first 20 years. US Geol Sury Prof Pap 1676:1–27

  12. Helz RT (1987) Diverse olivine types in the lava of the 1959 eruption of Kīlauea volcano and their bearing on eruption dynamics. In: Decker RW, Wright TL, Stauffer PH (eds), Volcanism in Hawai‘i. US Geol Sury Prof Pap, 1350: 1307–1334

  13. Houghton BF, Wilson CJN (1989) A vesicularity index for pyroclastic deposits. Bull Volcanol 51:451–462

  14. Lautze NC, Houghton BF (2007) Linking variable explosion style and magma textures during 2002 at Stromboli volcano, Italy. Bull Volcanol 69:445–460

  15. Mangan MT, Cashman KV (1996) The structure of basaltic scoria and reticulite and inferences for vesiculation, foam formation, and fragmentation in lava fountains. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 73:1–18

  16. Parfitt EA, Wilson L (1995) Explosive volcanic eruptions IX. The transition between Hawaiian-style lava fountaining and Strombolian explosive activity. Geophys J Int 121:226–232

  17. Polacci M, Corsaro RA, Andronico D (2006) Coupled textural and compositional characterization of basaltic scoria: insights into the transition from Strombolian to fire fountain activity at Mount Etna, Italy. Geol 3:201–204

  18. Polacci M, Burton MR, La Spina A, Mure R, Favretto S, Zanini F (2009) The role of syn-eruptive vesiculation on explosive basaltic activity at Mt. Etna, Italy. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 179:265–269

  19. Richter DH, Eaton JP, Murata KJ, Ault WU, Krivoy HL (1970) Chronological narrative of the 1959–60 eruption of Kīlauea volcano, Hawai‘i. In: The 1959–60 eruption of Kīlauea volcano, Hawai‘i. US Geol Sury Prof Pap, 537-E: E1-E73

  20. Sable JE, Houghton BF, Del Carlo P, Coltelli M (2006) Changing conditions of magma ascent and fragmentation during the Etna 122 BC basaltic Plinian eruption: Evidence from clast microtextures. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 158:333–354

  21. Shea T, Houghton BF, Gurioli L, Cashman KV, Hammer JE, Hobden BJ (2009) Textural studies of vesicles in volcanic rocks: an integrated methodology. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 190:271–289

  22. Sparks RSJ, Burski MI, Carey SN, Gilbert JS, Glaze LS, Sigurdsson H, Woods AW (1997) Volcanic plumes. Wiley, Chichester

  23. Stovall WS, Houghton BF, Gonnermann HM, Fagents SA, Swanson DA (2011) Eruption dynamics of Hawaiian-style fountains: the case study of episode 1 of the Kīlauea Iki 1959 eruption. Bull Volcanol 73:511–529. doi:10.1007/s00445-010-0426-z

  24. Swanson DA, Duffield WA, Jackson DB, Peterson DW (1979) Chronological narrative of the 1969–71 Mauna Ulu eruption of Kīlauea volcano, Hawai‘i. US Geol Sury Prof Pap 1056:1–55

  25. Tait S, Jaupart C, Thomas R, Gardner J (1998) Constraints on cooling rates and permeabilities of pumice in an explosive eruption jet from colour and magnetic mineralogy. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 86:79–91

  26. Walker GPL, Croasdale R (1972) Characteristics of some basaltic pyroclastics. Bull Volcanol 35:303–317

  27. Walker D, Kirkpatrick RJ, Longhi J, Hays JF (1976) Crystallization history of lunar picritic basalt sample 12002: phase-equilibria and cooling-rate studies. Geol Soc Am Bull 87:646–656

  28. Walker D, Powell MA, Lofgren GE, Hays JF (1978) Dynamic crystallization of a eucrite basalt. Proc Lunar Planet Sci Conf 9:1369–1391

  29. Wilson L, Parfitt EA, Head JW (1995) Explosive volcanic eruptions VIII. The role of magma recycling in controlling the behaviour of Hawaiian-style lava fountains. Geophys J Int 121:215–225

Download references


Special thanks to Carolyn Parcheta and Eric Hellebrand for help with microprobe operation; Maria Janebo for rock-wrapping assistance; Thomas Shea for creating FOAMS; and Gary Barnes, Ulrich Küppers, and Laura Pioli for reviewing this work. This research was funded by NSF grant EAR-0709303.

Author information

Correspondence to Wendy K. Stovall.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: B. van Wyk de Vries

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stovall, W.K., Houghton, B.F., Hammer, J.E. et al. Vesiculation of high fountaining Hawaiian eruptions: episodes 15 and 16 of 1959 Kīlauea Iki. Bull Volcanol 74, 441–455 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-011-0531-7

Download citation


  • Vesiculation
  • Hawaiian eruptions
  • Kīlauea Iki
  • Fasciculate crystal texture
  • Lava lake