The low, forested Tofua Island in the central part of the Tonga Islands group is the emergent summit of a large stratovolcano that was seen in eruption by Captain Cook in 1774. The first Caucasian to set foot on the 515-m-high island was Capt. William Bligh in 1789, just after the renowned mutiny on the “Bounty. The volcano’s summit contains a 5-km-wide caldera whose walls drop steeply about 500 m.
Three post-caldera cones were constructed at the northern end of a cold fresh-water caldera lake, whose surface lies only 30 m above sea level. The easternmost cone has three craters and produced young basaltic-andesite lava flows, some of which traveled into the caldera lake. The largest and northernmost of the cones, Lofia, has a steep-sided crater that is 70 m wide and 120 m deep and has been the source of historical eruptions, first reported in the 18th century. The fumarolically active crater of Lofia has a flat floor formed by a ponded lava flow.