What caused — or did not cause — the 2018 Kilauea eruption?

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK — When a major geologic event occurs, scientists who study such events and the people who are directly or indirectly impacted by it seek to understand its cause. Often, a first step toward that understanding is to rule out what did not cause the event.

Eruption pause provides an opportunity to probe volcanic pollution

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK — The end of Kilauea’s 2018 eruption this past September was accompanied by an enormous decrease in the amount of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) emitted from the volcano. This has led to beautifully clear skies gracing Hawaii Island, particularly noticeable on the west side, where the volcanic pollution known as vog chronically collected in past years.

New outcrops make good geology

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK — A good field geologist is an opportunist. Never content with what outcrops are available, she jumps at the chance to see another one, hoping that it will provide a better understanding to some question about what happened in the past. But it isn’t every day that new outcrops are created, and rarer still when they are on the scale of those formed during the faulting of Kilauea Volcano’s caldera floor in summer 2018.

Volcano Watch: Did groundwater trigger explosive eruptions at Kilauea?

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK — In February 1924, the surface of the lava lake at Halemaumau dropped rapidly and disappeared from view. Throughout March and April, the crater floor subsided as magma moved out of the summit reservoir into the East Rift Zone. By May 6, 1924, the floor of Halemaumau had dropped more about 600 feet below the crater rim.

Volcano Watch: Why does lava thickness matter?

VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK — Eruption rate — how much lava comes out of the ground per unit of time — is probably the best measure of volcanic activity, and the first step in that calculation is to measure lava flow thickness and area.

Volcano Watch: How do lava flows cool and how long does it take?

Since the end of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) eruption on Kilauea Volcano, questions have surfaced concerning how long it will take for the new lava flows to solidify. This is a difficult question to answer, because the initial eruptive temperatures along with many different factors can influence the rate of cooling.