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Hualālai is estimated to have risen above sea level about 300,000 years ago.Despite maintaining a very low level of activity since its last eruption in 1801, Hualālai is still considered active, and is expected to erupt again some time within the next century.According to the USGS Lava Flow Hazard Zones, on a scale of 1 to 9, all of Hualālai is listed as threat level 4.For comparison, almost all of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa is listed as threat levels 1 through 3.This was probably caused by magma movement near the surface, but there was no surface activity or eruption.This presents a distinct hazard to the communities around it as well; for example, in the event of an eruption similar to the 1801 event, Kailua-Kona, which is 15 mi (24 km) from the volcano's summit, could be covered completely in a matter of hours.Tholeiitic basalt, indicative of the submarine subphase of the volcano's construction, has been found in wells driven into the volcano at a depth of 75 ft (23 m).These lavas persisted until an estimated 130,000 years ago.i, behind Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.
The most recent major activity at the volcano was in 1929, when an intense earthquake swarm rocked Hualālai, most likely caused by magmatic action near the volcano's peak.
There are over 100 cinder and spatter cones arranged along these rift zones.
Hualālai has no summit caldera, although there is a collapse crater about 0.3 mi (0.48 km) across atop a small lava shield.
The eruptions, although partially covered by flows from Hualālai and Mauna Loa, have built a distinctive structure known as the Pu (390 sq mi), the slump consists of an intricate formation of beaches and scarps 2,000 to 4,500 m (6,600 to 14,800 ft) below the waterline.
This area was explored more closely in a 2001 joint Japan-United States project to explore the volcano's flanks, utilizing the Remotely operated vehicle ROV Kaikō.
Although it has been relatively placid in the recent past, Hualālai is still potentially active, and is expected to erupt again within the next 100 years.