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New Study - Understanding The 2018 Kilauea Caldera Collapse Using Friction

9:32 PM · Jul 28, 2021

The 2018 eruption of Kilauea was one of the few times in modern history a caldera collapse was recorded in real-time, and it was by far the most monitored. As magma moved roughly 25 miles underground to the Lower East Rift Zone and the eruptive sites in Leilani Estates, magma rapidly withdrew from the summit's shallow reservoir causing rapid deflation. After weeks of activity, what would become regular collapse events at the summit began, which would then affect the ongoing eruption in the rift zone. The new analysis on the dynamics of the 2018 collapse of the Kilauea Caldera models the event as a piston collapsing into a magma reservoir, with the downward motion of the piston compressing the magma beneath it. Each time the caldera would drop suddenly back in 2018 it would generate the force of a magnitude 5.3 earthquake, which would then drive eruptive activity in the lower East Rift Zone. The researches also tie into the model the elevation of the eruptive vents and how that can influence eruptive activity as well as episodic caldera collapse. The new study looks to connect laboratory experimentation with real-world, at-scale events that are significantly larger scales than those studied in the lab. The interaction between surfaces is complex and our understanding of them is constantly improving as the many different situations are unraveled and explored one-by-one. “One of the big challenges in earthquake science has been to take these friction laws and the values that were found in the laboratory, and apply them to, say, the San Andreas Fault, because it’s such an enormous jump in scale,” said the paper’s author, professor of geophysics at Stanford, Paul Segall. The paper entitled, "Repeating caldera collapse events constrain fault friction at the kilometer scale", published in the PNAS Journal, can be found here: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/30/e2101469118

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