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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Olivine-basalt drill core

Basalt drill core (NMNH 115475-39)
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH 115475-39
Locality Hawaii, United States

From the exhibit

During a 36-day eruption in 1959, the Hawaiian volcano Kilauea produced rivers of red-hot lava that filled the adjacent crater, Kilauea Iki, to a depth of 135 m (440 ft) and created a lake of molten rock.

The Kilauea lava lake provided scientists with a natural laboratory and a rare opportunity: a chance to observe lava slowly crystallizing. From 1959 through the early 1990s, they closely monitored the lake as it cooled and solidified.

In August of 1967, geologists prepare to drill through the crust of the partly solidified lava lake.

Background: December 5, 1959—Fountaining lava fills the crater like a giant bathtub.



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