Insight into the May 2015 summit inflation event at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



We use ground and space geodetic data to study surface deformation at Kīlauea Volcano from January to September 2015. This period includes an episode of heightened activity in April and May 2015 that culminated in a magmatic intrusion beneath the volcano's summit. The data set consists of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), tilt, visual and seismic time series along with 25 descending and 15 ascending acquisitions of the Sentinel-1 satellite. We identify four different stages of surface deformation and volcanic activity, which we attribute to pressure changes and the movement of magma in response to an imbalance between magma supply and withdrawal in the shallow plumbing system, eventually leading to an intrusion beneath the summit area. In particular, we model the deformation as due to pressure changes in two subsurface magma bodies: the Halema‘uma‘u Reservoir (HMMR) and South Caldera Reservoir (SCR). The SCR was best described by an ellipsoidal source at 2.8 (2.65–3.07 at 95% confidence) km depth below the south caldera region. The HMMR was modeled as a point source located just east of Halema‘uma‘u crater at 1.5 (0.95–2.62) km depth. We suggest that a short-term increase in the magma supply rate to the volcano is a potential mechanisms for the intrusion, although other factors, like the filling of available void space or a reduced efficiency of magma transport through the volcano's East Rift Zone, may also play a role.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Insight into the May 2015 summit inflation event at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2021.107250
Volume 415
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 107250, 13 p.
Country United States
State Hawaii
Other Geospatial Kīlauea Volcano
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details