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Ta'u Island

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Ta'u Island
green NORMAL, 2024-02-06 02:15:04 UTC

Taʻū Island is located at the east end of the Samoan Islands, in the United States Territory of American Samoa. Volcanic activity in American Samoa is within the area of responsibility of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, based in Hilo on the Island of Hawai‘i. 

Facts Block

Location: American Samoa

Latitude: 14.23° S

Longitude: 159.45° W

Elevation: 931 (m) 3,054 (f)

Volcano type: Shield

Composition: Basalt

Most recent eruption: unknown

Nearby towns: Taʻū village, Fitiuta

Threat Potential: Low*

*based on the National Volcano Early Warning System

Summary

Color photograph of island from space
  NASA Astronaut image of Ta'u Island (Manu'a Islands, American Samoa) in the South Pacific Ocean.

Taʻū Island is the top of a shield volcano (sometimes called Lata), most of which is under water.  The volcano has a summit caldera, and the highest elevation of the island is more than 3,000 feet (900 meters). Most of the southern part of the caldera has been removed by landslides.

Two rift zones are present on Taʻū, one to the northeast and one to the northwest. Dotting the sides of Taʻū island are at least a dozen circular scoria/cinder cones. The lower slopes of Taʻū island feature at least three tuff cone features. 

See the Geology and History page for more information on Ta‘ū Island, as well as Vailulu‘u seamount and other nearby submarine vents in American Samoa.  

July - September 2022 Earthquake Activity

Color plot of earthquake counts over time
Earthquakes in oceanic environments can generate pressure waves that travel long distances within the ocean itself. Much like seismographs record ground shaking, this energy is recorded by submerged hydrophones measuring pressure changes in water. Using an array of these instruments located offshore of Wake Island, 2,800 miles (4,500 km) northwest of Ta'ū volcano in American Samoa, we can detect earthquakes from around the Pacific Ocean and determine the direction to their origin. The above plot shows the number of earthquakes coming from the direction of Ta'ū volcano, recorded over time since late July at the Wake Island array. The detections are limited to larger, more notable events, and provide a consistent record of Ta'ū earthquake activity, including events that predate the installation of local seismic monitoring equipment. 
Color map of globe
Wake Island is about 2,800 miles (4,500 km) northwest of Ta'ū volcano in American Samoa. Both are located in the Pacific Ocean. 

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) responded to earthquake activity in the Manuʻa island group of American Samoa during July - September 2022. Residents reported that earthquakes began in late July 2022.  Seismometers (earthquake-detecting devices) installed in American Samoa in response to the earthquakes suggest that the earthquakes occurred closer to Taʻū island than the nearby submarine volcano, Vailuluʻu.

Experts at the Pago Pago National Weather Service Office (NWS), USGS Volcano Hazards Program, NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, NOAA-IOC International Tsunami Information Center, and USGS National Earthquake Information Center worked together with the American Samoa EOC during this response. 

Color map of the Manuʻa Islands, American Samoa
This reference map depicts the volcanoes in the Manuʻa Islands, American Samoa, the site of seismic unrest between July and September 2022. Marked on the map are the locations of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory GPS and seismometers in the islands. The topography and bathymetry are colored to respectively indicate elevations above sea level (up to 3,179 feet or 969 meters, the top of Lata Mountain) and depths below sea level (only down to -1,148 feet or -350 meters). The bathymetry data are courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Maxar/DigitalGlobe, and the University of Hawaiʻi School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology (SOEST), with coarser resolution at greater depths. A shallow submarine ridge extends to the northwest from Taʻū Island towards Olosega Island; it was along this ridge that a submarine eruption occurred in 1866.

Stay Informed

To receive updates on volcanoes in American Samoa, subscribe to the USGS Volcano Notification Service (VNS). This free service sends notices via email about volcanic activity in the US. 

To receive Volcano Activity Notices (VANs), subscribe to the VNS at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns2/. For emails about American Samoa unrest, select Ofu-Olosega, Ta’u Island, and Tutuila Island from the list of available volcanoes. Alternatively, select “Hawaiian Volcano Observatory - Add All Volcanoes” from the list of available volcano observatories to receive notices about volcanoes in Hawaii and American Samoa. 

For more information about the different types of VNS notifications, please see:  https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/notifications.html  

If you have questions, please contact: askHVO@usgs.gov 

News

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Photo and Video Chronology – American Samoa – August 2023

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Volcano Watch — USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff return to American Samoa

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Volcano Watch — Volcanoes of American Samoa

Publications

Volcanic hazards in the Pacific U.S. Territories

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa lie along the western side of the famed Pacific Ring of Fire. Here, the processes of active island and submarine volcanoes produce activity both underwater and in the atmosphere that poses potential hazards to the daily lives of residents and travelers. Since 2000, CNMI volcanoes have erupted six times, and one submarine vo
Authors
Gabrielle Tepp, Brian Shiro, William W. Chadwick

2018 update to the U.S. Geological Survey national volcanic threat assessment

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

Authors
John W. Ewert, Angela K. Diefenbach, David W. Ramsey

Science

Geology and History of Ta‘ū Island

Along with Tutuila and Ofu-Olosega volcanoes to the west, Ta‘ū Island is the top of a potentially active volcano within the United States Territory of American Samoa.
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Geology and History of Ta‘ū Island

Along with Tutuila and Ofu-Olosega volcanoes to the west, Ta‘ū Island is the top of a potentially active volcano within the United States Territory of American Samoa.
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