New research publication: "The cascading origin of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and implications for future forecasting"

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This work, recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, discusses the events leading up to Kīlauea's 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption and summit collapse. The paper details how the 2018 eruption evolved as a sequence of cascading events, allowing minor changes to cause major destruction and historic changes across the volcano. 

Read the full publication here.

Publication Abstract:

The 2018 summit and flank eruption of Kīlauea Volcano was one of the largest volcanic events in Hawaiʻi in 200 years. Data suggest that a backup in the magma plumbing system at the long-lived Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption site caused widespread pressurization in the volcano, driving magma into the lower flank. The eruption evolved, and its impact expanded, as a sequence of cascading events, allowing relatively minor changes at Puʻu ʻŌʻō to cause major destruction and historic changes across the volcano. Eruption forecasting is inherently challenging in cascading scenarios where magmatic systems may prime gradually and trigger on small events.

image related to volcanoes. See description

During the first two weeks of Kīlauea Volcano's 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption, fissures were characterized by low eruption rates and small flows. This was because the erupted lava originated from pockets of cooler, less fluid magma stored in the rift zone. Later fissures erupted hotter, more fluid magma, resulting in higher eruption rates and large, fast-moving lava flows, like that erupted from the fissure 8 cone (lower right), shown here on July 29, 2018. USGS photo by M. Patrick.

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