When erupting, all volcanoes pose a degree of risk to people and infrastructure, however, the risks are not equivalent from one volcano to another because of differences in eruptive style and geographic location. Assessing the relative threats posed by U.S. volcanoes identifies which volcanoes warrant the greatest risk-mitigation efforts by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners. This update
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Hualālai is the third youngest and third-most historically active volcano on the Island of Hawai‘i.
Location: Island of Hawai‘i
Latitude: 19.692° N
Longitude: 155.87° W
Elevation: 2,523 (m) 8,278 (f)
Volcano type: Shield
Most recent eruption: 1800 and 1801 A.D.
Nearby towns: Kalaoa, Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa, Kahaluu-Keauhou, Honalo
Threat Potential: High*
*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System
It is considered to be in the post-shield stage of activity. Six different vents erupted lava between the late 1700s and 1801, two of which generated lava flows that poured into the sea on the west coast of the island. The Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, located only 11 km (7 mi) north of Kailua-Kona, is built atop the larger flow. The oldest dated rocks are from about 128,000 years ago and it probably reached an elevation above sea level before 300,000 years ago. The volume of Hualālai is 12,400 km3 (2,975 mi3). Its area is 751 km2 (290 mi2).
Though Hualālai is not nearly as active as Mauna Loa or Kīlauea, geologic mapping of the volcano shows that 80 percent of Hualālai's surface has been covered by lava flows in the past 5,000 years. In the past few decades, when most of the resorts, homes, and commercial buildings were built on the flanks of Hualālai, earthquake activity beneath the volcano has been low. In 1929, however, an intense swarm of more than 6,200 earthquakes rattled the area around Hualālai Volcano for more than a month. The earthquakes were most likely caused by an intrusion of magma beneath the volcano. Two large earthquakes (each about magnitude 6.5) destroyed houses, water tanks, stone fences, and roadways. For these reasons, Hualālai is considered a potentially dangerous volcano that is likely to erupt again.