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The world’s most active volcano’s birth

Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A new study led by Monash University describes what may have prompted Kilauea’s birth.

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Kilauea, located on Hawaii’s southeast coast, is between 210,000 and 280,000 years old and emerged about 100,000 years ago.

Dr. Laura Miller from Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment shows for the first time that Hawaiian volcanoes were generated from magmas that grew in a deep (>90 km) magma chamber.

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A magma chamber is an underground lake of liquid rock.

Dr. Miller: “We got some of Kilauea’s earliest volcanic products.”

“We studied the origin of these samples by melting synthetic rocks at high temperatures (> 1100 C) and pressures (> 3 GPa) and modeling their rare earth element concentrations.

“The samples could only be generated by garnet crystallization and removal.”

Kilauea means “spewing” or “great spreading” in Hawaiian.

“Our analysis proves garnet crystallization’s function in pre-shield Hawaiian melts,” Dr. Miller remarked.

This challenges the assumption that fractional crystallization is a shallow process and argues that a deep (> 90 km) magma chamber is a critical early stage in the creation of a Hawaiian volcano.

Further information: Laura A. Miller et al, Fractional crystallisation of eclogite during the birth of a Hawaiian Volcano, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30108-x

Journal information: Nature Communications

Source: Monash University

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