Study Says Excessive Rainfall Caused Kīlauea Volcano Eruption

Study Says Excessive Rainfall Caused Kīlauea Volcano Eruption

Excessive and sustained rainfall sparked the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii, according to researchers at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Study Says Excessive Rainfall Caused Kīlauea Volcano Eruption

The researchers suggest that local rainfall patterns might contribute considerably to the timing and frequency of the eruption at Kīlauea and maybe at other volcanoes.

In a new study, revealed in the journal Nature, UM Rosenstiel School scientists Jamie Farquharson and Falk Amelung showed that the eruption was possible initiated by prolonged and at times extreme, rainfall in the months main up to the event.

The long-lived eruption of Kīlauea, one of Hawaii’s most lively volcanoes, entered an extraordinary new phase on May 3, 2018, throwing incandescent lava almost two hundred feet in the air and spewing lava over 13 square Miles throughout the well-populated east coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.

The unprecedented eruption, which destroyed hundreds of properties, involved the collapse of the summit caldera before it stopped four months later in September 2018.

Using a mix of ground-based and satellite measurements of rainfall, Farquharson and Amelung modeled the fluid stress within the volcano’s edifice over time—a factor that may directly influence the tendency for mechanical failure in the subsurface, in the end driving volcanic activity.

The team’s outcomes highlight that fluid stress was at its highest in virtually half a century immediately prior to the eruption, which they suggest facilitated magma movement beneath the volcano.