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Hawaiian volcano eruption in 2018 was triggered by sustained rainfall

by Bert Walkley (2020-05-11)

Heavy rainfall caused the massive eruption of the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii two years ago by softening the rock plugging its crater, according to a new study.

US researchers say the dramatic eruption in 2018, which destroyed hundreds of homes, was due to wet volcanic rock, which cracks easily under pressure.

Local rainfall patterns contributed to the timing and frequency of the chaotic eruption at Kīlauea and perhaps at other volcanoes, they say. 

Increased levels of rainfall caused by climate change could also mean more dramatic volcanic events in the future, not just in Hawaii, they warn. If you have any kind of questions regarding where and the best ways to make use of we know how to handle the unique plumbing needs of southwestern Ohio! We’re up to date on the building codes, you can call us at the web page.  

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Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, US, May 13, 2018. UM Rosenstiel School scientists have showed that the eruption was likely initiated by prolonged, and at times extreme, rainfall in the months leading up to the event

On May 3, 2018 fissures began opening and oozing lava in this lower part of the east rift zone as a major flank eruption. Kīlauea had been erupting for years prior to May 2018 but rainfall on the rock caused it to soften. Pressure below the surface caused the wet rocks to crack before magma flowed out at multiple fissures along the East Rift Zone

'Interestingly, when we investigate Kīlauea's historical eruption record, we see that magmatic intrusions and recorded eruptions are almost twice as likely to occur during the wettest parts of the year,' said Dr Jamie Farquharson at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.