Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Diapiric transfer of melt in Kilauea Iki lava lake, Hawaii: a quick, efficient process of igneous differentiation

January 1, 1989

Kilauea Iki lava lake, formed in 1959, is a large pond of picritic basalt (average MgO content = 15.34% by weight), which has cooled and crystallized as a small, self-roofed magma chamber. Differentiation processes recognized as active in the lake include rather inefficient settling of the larger (2-10 mm) olivine phenocrysts, formation of segregation veins, and formation of diapir-like vertical olivine-rich bodies, all processes which occur in one or more of the other Kilauean lava lakes as well. In addition, most of the central part of Kilauea Iki has been affected by diapiric melt transfer. Diapiric melt transfer was active from 1960 to 1971 and has affected most of the central part of the lake from 13 m to at least 80 m. The process ran simultaneously with the other three main differentiation processes but started and stopped independently of the others. Calculations suggest that between 21 and 42 wt % liquid has been extracted from the depleted zone at 56-78 m in the center of the lake, making this a very efficient process of chemical differentiation. -from Authors