Storage, migration, and eruption of magma at Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, 1971-1972

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

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The magmatic plumbing system of Kilauea Volcano consists of a broad region of magma generation in the upper mantle, a steeply inclined zone through which magma rises to an intravolcano reservoir located about 2 to 6 km beneath the summit of the volcano, and a network of conduits that carry magma from this reservoir to sites of eruption within the caldera and along east and southwest rift zones. The functioning of most parts of this system was illustrated by activity during 1971 and 1972. When a 29-month-long eruption at Mauna Ulu on the east rift zone began to wane in 1971, the summit region of the volcano began to inflate rapidly; apparently, blockage of the feeder conduit to Mauna Ulu diverted a continuing supply of mantle-derived magma to prolonged storage in the summit reservoir. Rapid inflation of the summit area persisted at a nearly constant rate from June 1971 to February 1972, when a conduit to Mauna Ulu was reopened. The cadence of inflation was twice interrupted briefly, first by a 10-hour eruption in Kilauea Caldera on 14 August, and later by an eruption that began in the caldera and migrated 12 km down the southwest rift zone between 24 and 29 September. The 14 August and 24-29 September eruptions added about 107 m3 and 8 ?? 106 m3, respectively, of new lava to the surface of Kilauea. These volumes, combined with the volume increase represented by inflation of the volcanic edifice itself, account for an approximately 6 ?? 106 m3/month rate of growth between June 1971 and January 1972, essentially the same rate at which mantle-derived magma was supplied to Kilauea between 1952 and the end of the Mauna Ulu eruption in 1971. The August and September 1971 lavas are tholeiitic basalts of similar major-element chemical composition. The compositions can be reproduced by mixing various proportions of chemically distinct variants of lava that erupted during the preceding activity at Mauna Ulu. Thus, part of the magma rising from the mantle to feed the Mauna Ulu eruption may have been stored within the summit reservoir from 4 to 20 months before it was erupted in the summit caldera and along the southwest rift zone in August and September. The September 1971 activity was only the fourth eruption on the southwest rift zone during Kilauea's 200 years of recorded history, in contrast to more than 20 eruptions on the east rift zone. Order-of-magnitude differences in topographic and geophysical expression indicate greatly disparate eruption rates for far more than historic time and thus suggest a considerably larger dike swarm within the east rift zone than within the southwest rift zone. Characteristics of the historic eruptions on the southwest rift zone suggest that magma may be fed directly from active lava lakes in Kilauea Caldera or from shallow cupolas at the top of the summit magma reservoir, through fissures that propagate down rift from the caldera itself at the onset of eruption. Moreover, emplacement of this magma into the southwest rift zone may be possible only when compressive stress across the rift is reduced by some unknown critical amount owing either to seaward displacement of the terrane south-southeast of the rift zone or to a deflated condition of Mauna Loa Volcano adjacent to the northwest, or both. The former condition arises when the forceful emplacement of dikes into the east rift zone wedges the south flank of Kilauea seaward. Such controls on the potential for eruption along the southwest rift zone may be related to the topographic and geophysical constrasts between the two rift zones. ?? 1982.

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Storage, migration, and eruption of magma at Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, 1971-1972
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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
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