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The historic events at Kilauea Volcano in 2018: Summit collapse, rift zone eruption, and Mw 6.9 earthquake: Preface to the special issue

May 20, 2020

Kīlauea Volcano, on the Island of Hawaiʻi, has had a prominent role in the science of volcanology, and a long history of generating new insights into how volcanoes operate (Tilling et al. 2014; Garcia 2015). Native Hawaiians shared ideas on the behavior of the volcano with early Western visitors to Kīlauea, addressing the basic geometry of magma supply and transport (Ellis 1825; Bishop 1827). The recognition that magma originated at the summit and was transferred at shallow levels to the flanks implied that these ideas were rooted in centuries of observation preceding Western contact. The lava lake activity at Kīlauea’s summit in the 1800s and early 1900s fascinated early geologists, such as James Dana (1890), who published one of the first inquiries into the fundamental processes of Hawaiian volcanoes. The sustained activity led to the 1912 founding of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, one of the world’s first volcano observatories, by Thomas Jaggar (Tilling et al. 2014). Kīlauea’s activity in the 20th century contributed to the development of many modern volcano monitoring techniques (Tilling et al. 2014), which helped refine conceptual models of how volcanoes behave (Eaton and Murata, 1960).

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