Diagram of a Hawaiian eruption. (key: 1. Ash plume 2. Lava fountain 3. Crater 4. Lava lake 5. Fumaroles 6. Lava flow 7. Layers of lava and ash 8. Stratum 9. Sill 10. Magma conduit 11. Magma chamber 12. Dike)
Hawaiian eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption, named after the Hawaiian volcanoes with which this eruptive type is hallmark. Hawaiian eruptions are the calmest types of volcanic events, characterized by the effusive eruption of very fluid basalt-type lavas with low gaseous content. The volume of ejected material from Hawaiian eruptions is less than half of that found in other eruptive types. Steady production of small amounts of lava builds up the large, broad form of a shield volcano. Eruptions are not centralized at the main summit as with other volcanic types, and often occur at vents around the summit and from fissure vents radiating out of the center
Hawaiian eruptions often begin as a line of vent eruptions along a fissure vent, a so-called "curtain of fire." These die down as the lava begins to concentrate at a few of the vents. Central-vent eruptions, meanwhile, often take the form of large lava fountains (both continuous and sporadic), which can reach heights of hundreds of meters or more. The particles from lava fountains usually cool in the air before hitting the ground, resulting in the accumulation of cindery scoria fragments; however, when the air is especially thick with clasts, they cannot cool off fast enough due to the surrounding heat, and hit the ground still hot, the accumulation of which forms spatter cones. If eruptive rates are high enough, they may even form splatter-fed lava flows. Hawaiian eruptions are often extremely long lived; Pu'u O'o, a cinder cone of Kilauea, has been erupting continuously since 1983. Another Hawaiian volcanic feature is the formation of active lava lakes, self-maintaining pools of raw lava with a thin crust of semi-cooled rock; there are currently only 5 such lakes in the world, and the one at Kīlauea's Kupaianaha vent is one of them.
Flows from Hawaiian eruptions are basaltic, and can be divided into two types by their structural characteristics. Pahoehoe lava is a relatively smooth lava flow that can be billowy or ropey. They can move as one sheet, by the advancement of "toes," or as a snaking lava column. A'a lava flows are denser and more viscous then pahoehoe, and tend to move slower. Flows can measure 2 to 20 m (7 to 66 ft) thick. A'a flows are so thick that the outside layers cools into a rubble-like mass, insulating the still-hot interior and preventing it from cooling. A'a lava moves in a peculiar way—the front of the flow steepens due to pressure from behind until it breaks off, after which the general mass behind it moves forward. Pahoehoe lava can sometimes become A'a lava due to increasing viscosity or increasing rate of shear, but A'a lava never turns into pahoehoe flow.
Hawaiian eruptions are responsible for several unique volcanological objects. Small volcanic particles are carried and formed by the wind, chilling quickly into teardrop-shaped glassy fragments known as Pele's tears (after Pele, the Hawaiian volcano deity). During especially high winds these chunks may even take the form of long drawn-out strands, known as Pele's hair. Sometimes basalt aerates into reticulite, the lowest density rock type on earth.
Although Hawaiian eruptions are named after the volcanoes of Hawaii, they are not necessarily restricted to them; the largest lava fountain ever recorded formed on the island of Izu Ōshima (on Mount Mihara) in 1986, a 1,600 m (5,249 ft) gusher that was more than twice as high as the mountain itself (which stands at 764 m (2,507 ft).
Adapted from wikipedia.org