Gravity Change at the Summit of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, during 2012-2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Sarah Moore, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, Michael P Poland, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawaii National Park, HI, United States, Nicola Kirsten Young, University of Bristol, Athy, Ireland, Marco Bagnardi, University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment, Leeds, United Kingdom and Daniele Carbone, INGV National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, Catania, Italy
Monitoring of gravity change at a volcano is a valuable means of assessing mass change at depth and a good complement to other surveillance methods, like deformation and seismicity. At Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, repeated gravity surveys of the summit region have been conducted since 1975, with hundreds of microgals of gravity increase measured at the center of the caldera but without the magnitude of surface uplift through 2008 that would be expected from the gravity increase. This gravity increase was attributed to magma accumulation in void space. Between 2009 and 2012, gravity increase and uplift were coincident, but the uplift was less than expected for the given gravity signal (assuming a basaltic magma density of 2500 kg/m3). The source of both deformation and gravity change was at 1.5 km depth beneath the east margin of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, within Kīlauea Caldera, corresponding to the location of a known shallow magma reservoir. Densification of magma in this reservoir due to degassing through the open summit eruptive vent, active since 2008, is the preferred explanation of the observed gravity change and surface displacements. We conducted gravity surveys in 2013 and 2014 and found that both gravity change and surface displacements were negligible with respect to 2012. We interpret this lack of recent gravity change as an indication that the 1.5-km-depth magma reservoir has reached a steady-state density, where gas loss from the summit vent is compensated for by gas influx from below. Continued gravity surveys should identify any changes in this equilibrium that may presage changes in summit eruptive activity.