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Post audit of simulated groundwater flow to a short-lived (2019-2020) crater lake at Kīlauea Volcano

September 6, 2021

About 14.5 months after the 2018 eruption and summit collapse of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, liquid water started accumulating in the deepened summit crater, forming a lake that attained 51 m depth before rapidly boiling off on December 20, 2020, when an eruption from the crater wall poured lava into the lake. Modeling the growth of the crater lake at Kīlauea summit is important for assessing the potential for explosive volcanism. Our current understanding of the past 2500 years of eruptive activity at Kīlauea suggests a slight dominance of explosive behavior over effusive. The deepened summit crater and presence of the crater lake in 2019 raised renewed concerns about explosive activity. Groundwater models using hydraulic-property data from a nearby drillhole successfully forecast the timing and rate of lake filling. Here we compare the groundwater-model predictions with observational data through the demise of the crater lake, examine the implications for local water-table configuration, consider the potential role of evaporation and recharge (neglected in previous models), and briefly discuss the energetics of the rapid boil-off. This post audit of groundwater-flow models of Kīlauea summit shows that simple models can sometimes be used effectively to simulate complex settings such as volcanoes.

Publication Year 2021
Title Post audit of simulated groundwater flow to a short-lived (2019-2020) crater lake at Kīlauea Volcano
DOI 10.1111/gwat.13133
Authors Ashton F. Flinders, James P. Kauahikaua, Paul A. Hsieh, Steven E. Ingebritsen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater
Index ID 70227361
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center