The 2018 Kīlauea Summit and lower East Rift Zone eruption resulted in 3.5 months of lava discharge, destroying more than 724 structures but fortunately no fatalities.
This eruption was unprecedented, allowing the first opportunity for the volcano science community to directly observe caldera formation (in the modern instrumented era) because of magma withdrawal from the summit region and its subsequent eruption downslope in the lower East Rift Zone. Caldera formation was observed through the thousands of M5.3 earthquakes recorded, the GPS instruments in the summit region, and remote sensing technologies (satellites, airborne lidar, and unoccupied aerial systems (UAS)) following the event. Overall, Halemʻumaʻu pit crater within Kīlauea’s summit caldera was widened by a factor of 2 and deepened by a factor of 3.
Scientific investigations of the current state of Kīlauea are needed to properly interpret the data from the monitoring networks and characterize the ongoing and future threats and hazards to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and surrounding communities. An integrated program of geophysical, geochemical, and geologic investigations are necessary to understand the shallow magma reservoir status and evolution post-2018. This work will improve our understanding of summit and rift zone structure and magmatic plumbing, the history and likelihood of dangerous explosive eruptions from the summit region, and our understanding of the rift zones where the greatest concentration of risk exists on Kīlauea. Seventeen different research projects are supported by this funding.
Geologic Investigations Projects:
- Magma Water Interactions Modeling
- Ash Deposits
- Kīlauea Geophysics
- Active Seismic Interferometry
- Airborne Electromagnetic and Magnetic (AEM) and Ground-Based Magnetotelluric (MT) Surveys
- LERZ Explosive Processes
- Next Generation Lava Flow Forecasting
- Pāhala Earthquakes
- 2018 Shallow Structure
- Gravity Monitoring
- Tephra Studies
- Newly Exposed Sections
- Event Tree Workshops
Gravity surveys as a means of volcano monitoring: In 2010, HVO began a new form of volcano monitoring at a station on the rim of Kīlauea’s Halemʻumaʻu crater—continuous gravity recording. Subtle changes in gravity can signal magma changes below the surface; gravity increases when magma rises to shallower depths beneath a volcano, and gravity decreases when magma drains away.
Kīlauea’s summit collapse in May 2018 destroyed this monitoring station, impacting HVO’s ability to provide critical data on subsurface magma changes. Data from a second continuous gravity station, installed at Kīlauea’s down-rift cone Puʻuʻōʻō in 2014, revealed a signal that preceded the collapse of the cone by 1 hour on April 30, 2018—the first signal associated with the onset of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone dike intrusion and eventual eruption. This instrument was recovered and later installed in the post-2018 Kīlauea caldera to monitor potential future eruptive activity, including recording an anomalous signal days before the start of the September 29, 2021, eruption. Data from this instrument allowed USGS to advise Hawaiʽi Volcanoes National Park (HAVO) on potential hazards and for HAVO to take effective hazard mitigation measures to protect park visitors.
Supplemental funding has greatly enhance HVO’s gravity monitoring program. Funding was used to replace and expand the continuous gravity station network for Kīlauea. New Instruments installed at three additional locations, including Kīlauea’s Southwest Rift Zone, have allowed USGS to become a global leader in gravity monitoring. The purchase the first federally owned and operated absolute quantum gravity meter, a priority instrument type identified by the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science, will provide stable long-measurements of the absolute gravity field at Kīlauea and form the backbone of HVO’s new continuous monitoring program. This expanded gravity monitoring program offers realistic possibilities of advanced warning in changes of volcanic activity that might not otherwise be available.
WATCH Nature's Hawaii’s surprise volcanic eruption: Lessons from Kilauea 2018
Namiki, A., Patrick, M.R., Manga, M., and Houghton, B.F., 2021, Brittle fragmentation by rapid gas separation in a Hawaiian fountain: Nature Geoscience, v. 14, no. 4, p. 242-247.
Houghton, B.F., Cockshell, W.A., Gregg, C.E., Walker, B.H., Kim, K., Tisdale, C.M., and Yamashita, E., 2021, Land, lava, and disaster create a social dilemma after the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano: Nature Communications, v. 12, no. 1, p. 1223.
Water-level data for the crater lake at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, Island of Hawai'i, 2019-2020
Digital elevation model of K?lauea Volcano, Hawaii, based on July 2019 airborne lidar surveys
Earthquakes indicated magma viscosity during Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption
The birth of a Hawaiian fissure eruption
The cascading origin of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and implications for future forecasting
Water-level data for the crater lake at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, Island of Hawai'i, 2019-2020During 2018, Kilauea Volcano, on the Island of Hawaiii, had a large effusive eruption (~1 cubic kilometer of lava) on the lower East Rift Zone that caused widespread destruction (Neal and others, 2019; Dietterich and others, 2021). This lower flank eruption was accompanied by one of the largest collapses of the summit caldera in two hundred years, with portions of the caldera floor subsiding more
Digital elevation model of K?lauea Volcano, Hawaii, based on July 2019 airborne lidar surveysThe 2018 eruption of Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawaii saw the collapse of a new, nested caldera at the volcano?s summit, and the inundation of 35.5 square kilometers (13.7 square miles) of the lower Puna District with lava. Between May and August, while the summit caldera collapsed, a lava channel extended 11 kilometers (7 miles) from fissure 8 in Leilani Estates to Kapoho Bay, where it for
Earthquakes indicated magma viscosity during Kīlauea’s 2018 eruptionMagma viscosity strongly controls the style (for example, explosive versus effusive) of a volcanic eruption and thus its hazard potential, but can only be measured during or after an eruption. The identification of precursors indicative of magma viscosity would enable forecasting of the eruption style and the scale of associated hazards1. The unanticipated May 2018 rift intrusion and eruption of K
The birth of a Hawaiian fissure eruptionMost basaltic explosive eruptions intensify abruptly, allowing little time to document processes at the start of eruption. One opportunity came with the initiation of activity from fissure 8 (F8) during the 2018 eruption on the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea, Hawaii. F8 erupted in four episodes. We recorded 28 min of high‐definition video during a 51‐min period, capturing the onset of the second
The cascading origin of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and implications for future forecastingThe 2018 summit and flank eruption of Kīlauea Volcano was one of the largest volcanic events in Hawaiʻi in 200 years. Data suggest that a backup in the magma plumbing system at the long-lived Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption site caused widespread pressurization in the volcano, driving magma into the lower flank. The eruption evolved, and its impact expanded, as a sequence of cascading events, allowing relative