World Facts

The 5 Active Volcanoes of Hawaii

The island of Hawaii is built from five shield volcanoes: Haleakalā, Hualālai, Kīlauea, Lōihi, and Mauna Loa. 

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A volcano is formed by the build-up of magma. As magma collects, pressure builds, forcing it upwards with enough force to break through the Earth's outer surface and pop out of the ocean. The United States has more volcanoes than any other country on Earth, and the vast majority of the country's volcanoes are found in Alaska. However, the country's other non-contiguous state is also famous for having some volcanic activity of its own. Hawaii has five active volcanoes: Haleakalā, Hualālai, Kīlauea, Lōihi, and Mauna Loa. 

5. Haleakalā

It is estimated that Haleakalā's last eruption was way back in 1790, though some researchers dispute this. It is found on the island of Maui, and raises to a height of 10,023 feet at its highest point. The volcano is so large that it makes up the majority of the territory of Maui. The mountain has been the center of folklore for native populations of Hawaii, where it is said to have served as the home for the demigod Māui's grandmother. The volcano crater is under the jurisdiction fo the National Park Services, and some areas of the park require a special permit in order to visit.

4. Hualālai

Hualālai is the third youngest, the westernmost, and the third most active volcano on the island. The mountain rises 8,271 feet above sea level. It last erupted in 1801 after being inactive for more than two thousand years. The mountain is considered active because it is expected to erupt within the next century. Hawaiian natives have lived on the foot of the mountain for centuries. It is found on the island of Hawaii (Big Island).

3. Kīlauea

Kīlauea is the most active volcano in Hawaii. It was formed between 300,000 and 600,000 years ago, but emerged above sea level 100,000 years ago. Kīlauea has erupted continuously since 1983, destroying property. In May 2018, the mountain began erupting and forming several lava vents that oozed lava continuously. By mid-June of that year, the mountain was still erupting, and dozens of homes had been razed to the ground by lava. After nearly months, the eruption was said to be over.

2. Lōihi

Lōihi is an active Hawaiian volcano found beneath sea level. It is the youngest volcano out of the five. Its last eruption was in the mid-90s. It is considered to be a seamount. Some researchers have estimated that the top of Lōihi will grow above the sea level in 10,000 years. However, it is possible that Lōihi will die out before it ever reaches the surface.

1. Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa is the second largest volcanic mountain by area on Earth after Tamu Massif. The active volcanic mountain last erupted in 1984. It is 13,679 feet long and covers an area of 2,000 square miles. Although the mountain is active, it erupts gently because its magma is silica-poor and very fluid. The eruption in 1984 did not cause casualties, but geologists list the mountain among the most dangerous in the world.

5 Active Volcanoes in Hawaii

RankVolcanoElevation (feet)
1Mauna Loa13,679
2Haleakala10,023
3Loihi 10,000 (above water)
4Hualalai8,271
5Kilauea4,091

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