Continuous gravity data collected near the summit eruptive vent at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, during 2011–2015 show a strong correlation with summit-area surface deformation and the level of the lava lake within the vent over periods of days to weeks, suggesting that changes in gravity reflect variations in volcanic activity. Joint analysis of gravity and lava level time series data indicates that over the entire time period studied, the average density of the lava within the upper tens to hundreds of meters of the summit eruptive vent remained low—approximately 1000–1500 kg/m3. The ratio of gravity change (adjusted for Earth tides and instrumental drift) to lava level change measured over 15 day windows rose gradually over the course of 2011–2015, probably reflecting either (1) a small increase in the density of lava within the eruptive vent or (2) an increase in the volume of lava within the vent due to gradual vent enlargement. Superimposed on the overall time series were transient spikes of mass change associated with inflation and deflation of Kīlauea's summit and coincident changes in lava level. The unexpectedly strong mass variations during these episodes suggest magma flux to and from the shallow magmatic system without commensurate deformation, perhaps indicating magma accumulation within, and withdrawal from, void space—a process that might not otherwise be apparent from lava level and deformation data alone. Continuous gravity data thus provide unique insights into magmatic processes, arguing for continued application of the method at other frequently active volcanoes.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Insights into shallow magmatic processes at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, from a multiyear continuous gravity time series|
|Series title||Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth|
|Publisher||American Geophysical Union|
|Contributing office(s)||Volcano Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Kilauea Volcano|