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Rainfall an unlikely trigger of Kilauea’s 2018 rift eruption

February 2, 2022

If volcanic eruptions could be forecast from the occurrence of some external process, it might be possible to better mitigate risk and protect lives and livelihoods. Farquharson and Amelung1 suggested that the 2018 lower East Rift Zone (ERZ) eruption of Kīlauea Volcano—the most destructive eruption in Hawai‘i in at least 200 years2—was triggered by extreme precipitation, which caused increased pore pressure that resulted in mechanical weakening of the volcano. Here we argue that Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption was instead caused by significant pre-eruptive pressurization, that pre-eruptive rainfall was not extreme, and that there is no significant correlation between rain and eruptions at Kīlauea. Understanding the causal mechanisms of volcanic eruptions is vital for hazard assessment and mitigation, and misattribution may compromise monitoring, preparedness, communication and response efforts.

Publication Year 2022
Title Rainfall an unlikely trigger of Kilauea’s 2018 rift eruption
DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-04163-1
Authors M. Poland, Shaul Hurwitz, James P. Kauahikaua, Emily Montgomery-Brown, Kyle R. Anderson, Ingrid Johanson, Matthew R. Patrick, Christina A. Neal
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature
Index ID 70230063
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center