Explosive 2018 eruptions at Kīlauea driven by a collapse-induced stomp-rocket mechanism

Nature Geoscience
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Explosive volcanic eruptions produce hazardous atmospheric plumes composed of tephra particles, hot gas and entrained air. Such eruptions are generally driven by magmatic fragmentation or steam expansion. However, an eruption mechanism outside this phreatic–magmatic spectrum was suggested by a sequence of 12 explosive eruptions in May 2018 at Kīlauea, Hawaii, that occurred during the early stages of caldera collapse and produced atmospheric plumes reaching 8 km above the vent. Here we use seismic inversions for reservoir pressure as a source condition for three-dimensional simulations of transient multiphase eruptive plume ascent through a conduit and stratified atmosphere. We compare the simulations with conduit ascent times inferred from seismic and infrasound data, and with plume heights from radar data. We find that the plumes are consistent with eruptions caused by a stomp-rocket mechanism involving the abrupt subsidence of reservoir roof rock that increased pressure in the underlying magma reservoir. In our model, the reservoir was overlain by a pocket of accumulated high-temperature magmatic gas and lithic debris, which were driven through a conduit approximately 600 m long to erupt particles at rates of around 3,000 m3 s−1. Our results reveal a distinct collapse-driven type of eruption and provide a framework for integrating diverse geophysical and atmospheric data with simulations to gain a better understanding of unsteady explosive eruptions.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Explosive 2018 eruptions at Kīlauea driven by a collapse-induced stomp-rocket mechanism
Series title Nature Geoscience
DOI 10.1038/s41561-024-01442-0
Volume 17
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Springer Nature
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center, Volcano Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 572
Last page 578
Country United States
State Hawaii
Other Geospatial Kīlauea
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