In November 1976, the U.S. Geological Survey, in conjunction with the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics, established a 100-km-long seismic refraction line normal to the southeast coast of Hawaii across the submarine flank of Kilauea Volcano. Interpretation of the data suggests that the oceanic crust dips about 2° toward the island underneath the volcanic pile. The unreversed Pn velocity is 7.9 km/ sec with crustal velocities varying strongly along the profile.

Profiles across the rift zones of Kilauea suggest that the velocity in the rifts is higher than the velocity in the surrounding extrusive rocks and that the velocity in the southwest rift (∼6.5 km/sec) is lower than the velocity in the east rift (∼7.0 km/sec). The rift boundaries seem to dip away from the rift such that a large part of the volcanic pile is composed of the higher velocity core of riftzone rock.

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