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Chemistry and petrography of early 19th century basaltic andesites and basalts from the Kamakaiʻa Hills in the Southwest Rift Zone of Kīlauea volcano, Hawaiʻi

November 20, 2023

Kīlauea is a frequently active, open-system volcano on the Island of Hawaiʻi known for erupting olivine-dominated tholeiitic basalt compositions. On rare occasions it erupts more differentiated magmas (<1% of erupted volume), such as basaltic andesites and andesites, from its rift zones. These differentiated magmas offer an opportunity to understand better the petrology, magma storage, magma mixing, and eruptive triggers that occur in Kīlauea's rift zone reservoirs. This study focuses on an eruption from the Southwest Rift Zone of Kīlauea, which is dominantly basaltic andesite with subordinate basalt. This eruption originated at the Kamakaiʻa Hills during the early 19th century and has two eruptive phases: 1) an early ‘a‘ā phase that is primarily exposed in the eastern part of the flow field, with minor western lobes, and 2) a late pāhoehoe phase that makes up most of the western part of the flow field. The early ‘a‘ā phase covers at least 5.8 km2 with an erupted volume of ∼150 × 106 m3 and consists of uniform composition basaltic andesites with 3.72–4.15 wt% MgO over its ∼7 km flow length. The late pāhoehoe phase reached >10 km from its vent, covers an area of ∼7.1 km2, has a volume of ∼100 × 106 m3, and initially erupted basaltic andesite near its vent (4.50–5.64 wt% MgO extending to 3.8 km from vent) with channel and tube-fed basalt (6.21–12.38 wt% MgO sampled at >3.8 km from vent) emplaced during its waning stages. Most Kamakaiʻa Hills lavas are crystal-poor, containing ≤1.5% glomerocrysts and individual phenocrysts of plagioclase + clinopyroxene + FeTi oxides ± orthopyroxene, as well as olivine in lavas with >6 wt% MgO.

Major-oxide and trace-element concentrations throughout the Kamakaiʻa Hills lavas demonstrate the involvement of three distinct magmatic processes. First, the basaltic andesites of the early ‘a‘ā phase are the products of fractionation of plagioclase + clinopyroxene + FeTi oxides ± orthopyroxene, indicative of magmas that have been stored in rift zone reservoirs for decades or longer. Second, the near-vent (within ∼400 m of vent) basaltic andesites of the late pāhoehoe phase yield chemical concentrations that indicate magma mixing with a more differentiated magma (of a similar evolved composition to basaltic andesites at ∼55–56 wt% SiO2 and ∼3.4–4.1 wt% MgO that erupted in the lower East Rift Zone in 2018). Third, the progressively more mafic magma (containing olivine + plagioclase + clinopyroxene) that continued to erupt throughout the waning stages of activity suggests an eruptive triggering process whereby an intruding summit or uprift reservoir basalt overpressurized and forced out the stored, differentiated magma of the Kamakaiʻa Hills rift zone reservoir.

Publication Year 2023
Title Chemistry and petrography of early 19th century basaltic andesites and basalts from the Kamakaiʻa Hills in the Southwest Rift Zone of Kīlauea volcano, Hawaiʻi
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2023.107967
Authors Drew T. Downs, May Sas, Richard W. Hazlett
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70250104
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center