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Explosive activity on Kilauea’s Lower East Rift Zone fueled by a volatile-rich, dacitic melt

January 31, 2022

Magmas with matrix glass compositions ranging from basalt to dacite erupted from a series of 24 fissures in the first two weeks of the 2018 Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) eruption of Kīlauea Volcano. Eruption styles ranged from low spattering and fountaining to strombolian activity. Major element trajectories in matrix glasses and melt inclusions hosted by olivine, pyroxene and plagioclase are consistent with variable amounts of fractional crystallization, with incompatible elements (e.g., Cl, F, H2O) becoming enriched by 4-5 times as melt MgO contents evolve from 6 to 0.5 wt%. The high viscosity and high H2O contents (∼2 wt%) of the dacitic melts erupting at Fissure 17 account for the explosive Strombolian behavior exhibited by this fissure, in contrast to the low fountaining and spattering observed at fissures erupting basaltic to basaltic-andesite melts. Saturation pressures calculated from melt inclusions CO2-H2O contents indicate that the magma reservoir(s) supplying these fissures was located at ∼2-3 km depth, which is in agreement with the depth of a dacitic magma body intercepted during drilling in 2005 (∼2.5 km) and a seismically-imaged low Vp/Vs anomaly (∼2 km depth). Nb/Y ratios in erupted products are similar to lavas erupted between 1955-1960, indicating that melts were stored and underwent variable amounts of crystallization in the LERZ for >60 years before being remobilized by a dike intrusion in 2018. We demonstrate that extensive fractional crystallization generates viscous and volatile-rich magma with potential for hazardous explosive eruptions, which may be lurking undetected at many ocean island volcanoes.

Publication Year 2022
Title Explosive activity on Kilauea’s Lower East Rift Zone fueled by a volatile-rich, dacitic melt
DOI 10.1029/2021GC010046
Authors Penny E. Wieser, Marie Edmonds, Cheryl Gansecki, John Maclennan, Frances E. Jenner, Barbara Kunz, Paula Antoshechkina, Frank A. Trusdell, R. Lopaka Lee
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G-Cubed)
Index ID 70227782
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center