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Detecting pre-eruptive magmatic processes of the 2018 eruption at Kilauea, Hawaii volcano with ambient noise interferometry

  • Feng, Kuan-Fu1, 2
  • Huang, Hsin-Hua2
  • Wu, Yih-Min1, 2
  • 1 National Taiwan University, Taipei, 10617, Taiwan , Taipei (Taiwan)
  • 2 Academia Sinica, Taipei, 11529, Taiwan , Taipei (Taiwan)
Published Article
Earth Planets and Space
Publication Date
May 30, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s40623-020-01199-x
Springer Nature


A sequence of eruptions in the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) of the Kilauea, Hawaii volcano commenced in early May 2018 and caused serious damage and residential evacuation. The post-eruption drainage and collapses of the summit lava lake and caldera suggest a well-connected magmatic plumbing system along the rift zone. How and when the pre-eruptive magmatic processes in such connecting system occurred are, however, still unclear. For that, we apply ambient noise interferometry with seismic data from January 2017 to June 2018 from 12 broadband seismometers to investigate spatiotemporal seismic velocity changes (dv/v) of the upper crust in the Kilauea area. The dv/v variations in three frequency bands (0.3–0.6 Hz, 0.6–0.9 Hz, and 0.9–2.0 Hz) show distinct responses to strong earthquake ground shaking and deep magmatic intrusion processes. Earthquake-induced dv/v drops mainly in the higher two frequency bands imply shallow mechanical changes within the uppermost 1 km of the crust. In contrast, the magma-related dv/v changes can be characterized into three periods of activity: from the December 2017 to March 15, 2018, a dv/v excursion only seen in the lowest frequency band indicates the magmatic intrusion processes taking place at the depth range of 1–4 km, consistent with the proposed depth of the magma reservoir-dike system in the rift zone. The spatial dv/v distribution suggests that the magma may intrude to the deeper summit magma reservoir and in the upper East Rift Zone (UERZ) at this time. From March 15 to April 17 in 2018, the summit inflation recorded by tiltmeters causes the dv/v increases in the higher two frequency bands. After April 17 to the eruption, the accumulating damage of the edifice together with the stronger intrusion activity in the UERZ result in dv/v decreases in all three frequency bands around the summit and UERZ areas. Our observations highlight that the ambient noise interferometry analysis provides an opportunity to image and understand the pre-eruptive processes of reservoir-dike magma system and could be a useful supplement to current volcanic monitoring systems.

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