Kilauea's magma plumbing system received a pulse of additional magma
today, causing an intrusion of magma from the shallow reservoir under
Kilauea (3-6 km beneath its summit) to within 0.5 km of the surface.
The summit area was rocked by numerous earthquakes causing rock falls.
Everyone expected a new vent to form at the summit. The National Park
Service evacuated the summit area as a precaution, but the vent did not
appear. Instead, the new pulse of magma caused the lava lake in the
throat of the Pu`u `O`o cone (almost 20 km away) to rise over 30 m forcing
more magma through the lava tubes that are fed from it. This temporarily
caused the skylights in the tubes to erupt like artisan wells and
produce a surface flow that headed towards the ocean. This surge of
additional magma was short-lived and the volcano returned to its
original state by the end of the day. It was a great show while it
The cause of the magma surge is thought to be related to the clearing of a partial blockage in the volcano's magma plumbing system. It demonstrates that the mantle is continuing to supply Kilauea with a steady and abundant supply of magma. Thus, there is no end in sight for the current Pu`u `O`o eruption, which celebrated its 13th birthday last month.
Sources used for this summary:
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Last page update on 23 Mar 1998