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Ta'u Island

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Ta'u Island
green NORMAL, 2023-03-02 21:30:27 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


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 islands and nearby bathymetry
This reference map depicts the topography and bathymetry of the volcanoes in the Manu‘a Islands, American Samoa. The highest elevation in the area is Lata Mountain on Ta‘ū Island, standing 3,179 feet (969 meters) above sea level. The bathymetry data—courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Maxar/DigitalGlobe, and the University of Hawai‘i School of Ocean & Earth Science & Technology (SOEST)—depicts submarine topography in high-resolution down to 1,148 feet (350 meters) below sea level, and at coarser resolution to greater depths. A shallow submarine ridge extends to the northwest from Ta‘ū Island towards Olosega Island; it was along this ridge that a submarine eruption occurred in 1866. There are now 4 broadband seismometers (pink circles), 6 microseismometers (pink squares), and 2 GPS stations (blue stars) monitoring activity in the Manu‘a Islands.

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 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:  

If you have questions, please contact: 



Volcano Watch — Volcanoes of American Samoa


Photo and Video Chronology – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – September 16, 2022


Photo and Video Chronology – Hawaiian Volcano Observatory – September 9, 2022