Time-variable magma pressure at Kīlauea Volcano yields constraint on the volume and volatile content of shallow magma storage
Abstract:Episodic depressurization-pressurization cycles of Kīlauea Volcano’s shallow magma system cause variations in ground deformation, eruption rate, and surface height of the active summit lava lake. The mechanism responsible for these pressure-change cycles remains enigmatic, but associated monitoring signals often show a quasi-exponential temporal history that is consistent with a temporary reduction (or blockage) of supply to Kīlauea’s shallow magma storage area. Regardless of their cause, the diverse signals produced by these deflation-inflation (DI) cycles offer an unrivaled opportunity to constrain properties of an active volcano’s shallow magma reservoir and relation to its eruptive vents.
We model transient behavior at Kīlauea Volcano using a simple mathematical model of an elastic reservoir that is coupled to magma flux through Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone (ERZ) at a rate proportional to the difference in pressure between the summit reservoir and the ERZ eruptive vent (Newtonian flow). In this model, summit deflations and ERZ flux reductions are caused by a blockage in supply to the reservoir, while re-inflations occur as the system returns to a steady-state flux condition. The model naturally produces exponential variations in pressure and eruption rate which reasonably, albeit imperfectly, match observations during many of the transient events at Kīlauea.
We constrain the model using a diverse range of observations including time-varying summit lava lake surface height and volume change, the temporal evolution of summit ground tilt, time-averaged eruption rate derived from TanDEM-X radar data, and height difference between the summit lava lake and the ERZ eruptive vent during brief eruptive pauses (Patrick et al., 2015). Formulating a Bayesian inverse and including independent prior constraint on magma density, host rock strength, and other properties of the system, we are able to place probabilistic constraints on the volume and volatile content of shallow magma storage, as well as properties of the ERZ conduit and influx of magma into Kīlauea’s shallow magma reservoir. Reservoir influx parameters cannot in general be uniquely resolved, but reservoir volume and exsolved volatile content are well constrained; ERZ conduit radius may also be estimated given some simplifying assumptions.