Variations in magma supply rate at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth



When an eruption of Kilauea lasts more than 4 months, so that a well-defined conduit has time to develop, magma moves freely through the volcano from a deep source to the eruptive site at a constant rate of 0.09 km3/yr. At other times, the magma supply rate to Kilauea, estimated from geodetic measurements of surface displacements, may be different. For example, after a large withdrawal of magma from the summit reservoir, such as during a rift zone eruption, the magma supply rate is high initially but then lessens and exponentially decays as the reservoir refills. Different episodes of refilling may have different average rates of magma supply. During four year-long episodes in the 1960s, the annual rate of refilling varied from 0.02 to 0.18 km3/yr, bracketing the sustained eruptive rate of 0.09 km3/yr. For decade-long or longer periods, our estimate of magma supply rate is based on long-term changes in eruptive rate. We use eruptive rate because after a few dozen eruptions the volume of magma that passes through the summit reservoir is much larger than the net change of volume of magma stored within Kilauea. The low eruptive rate of 0.009 km3/yr between 1840 and 1950, compared to an average eruptive rate of 0.05 km3/yr since 1950, suggests that the magma supply rate was lower between 1840 and 1950 than it has been since 1950. An obvious difference in activity before and since 1950 was the frequency of rift zone eruptions: eight rift zone eruptions occurred between 1840 and 1950, but more than 20 rift zone eruptions have occurred since 1950. The frequency of rift zone eruptions influences magma supply rate by suddenly lowering pressure of the summit magma reservoir, which feeds magma to rift zone eruptions. A temporary drop of reservoir pressure means a larger-than-normal pressure difference between the reservoir and a deeper source, so magma is forced to move upward into Kilauea at a faster rate.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Variations in magma supply rate at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/93JB02765
Volume 98
Issue B12
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Description 14 p.
First page 22255
Last page 22268