Temperature measurements in deep drill holes on volcano summits or upper flanks allow a quantitative analysis of groundwater induced heat transport within the edifice. We present a new temperature-depth profile from a deep well on the summit of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, and analyze it in conjunction with a temperature profile measured 26 years earlier. We propose two groundwater flow models to interpret the complex temperature profiles. The first is a modified confined lateral flow model (CLFM) with a continuous flux of hydrothermal fluid. In the second, transient flow model (TFM), slow conductive cooling follows a brief, advective heating event. We carry out numerical simulations to examine the timescales associated with each of the models. Results for both models are sensitive to the initial conditions, and with realistic initial conditions it takes between 750 and 1000 simulation years for either model to match the measured temperature profiles. With somewhat hotter initial conditions, results are consistent with onset of a hydrothermal plume ???550 years ago, coincident with initiation of caldera subsidence. We show that the TFM is consistent with other data from hydrothermal systems and laboratory experiments and perhaps is more appropriate for this highly dynamic environment. The TFM implies that volcano-hydrothermal systems may be dominated by episodic events and that thermal perturbations may persist for several thousand years after hydrothermal flow has ceased.
Additional publication details
Episodic thermal perturbations associated with groundwater flow: An example from Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii