Hawaii Lava Zones Explained

Posted Thursday, June 7, 2018 by Brittany Anderson

The threat of lava is relatively low for most property owners on the Big Island. But, what are lava zone maps and how are they used on The Big Island of Hawaii? Read on to learn more about this unique aspect of Hawaii real estate.

What are the lava zones in Hawaii?

Lava zones are land categories based on the potential hazard that lava will flow in a given area. The Big Island has nine lava zone. As the numbers increase the hazard decreases so, Lava Zone 1 has the highest risk which includes areas of the current lava eruption. Lava Zone 9 has the lowest risk which consists of the land around the dormant volcano Kohala.

Do all of the Hawaiian Islands have lava zones?

Hawaii Island and Maui are the only islands with lava zones. Haleakala on Maui is considered a “dormant” volcano which means there is a possibility that there may be an eruption. Maui’s lava-flow hazard zone map can be found on the Hawaii Volcano Observatory page. The Big Island has three active volcanoes Mauna Loa, Kilauea, and Hualalai. Mauna Kea is considered dormant whereas Kohala is extinct. Oahu, Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai do not have lava zones.


When were Big Island lava zones created?

The first lava zone map for the Island of Hawaii was created in 1974 by US Geological Survey geologists. In the 1980s lava zones were updated based on new geological data and flow age-dating. Again in 1992, the Big Island lava-flow hazard zones map was revised. These zone adjustments were based on past lava eruptions, topography, and frequency of lava activity as well as Hawaiian oral histories past down through the generations and written records that began in the early 1800s. Geologists and volcanologists are continually monitoring volcanic activity in hopes of better understanding lava zones.


Real estate buyers on the Big Island need to be aware of lava hazard zones, and your real estate agent can help find the lava zone of any property you are considering.

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