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May 16, 2016

Kilauea: Up close and personal with red hot science!

This geologist has been taking whatever Kilauea and other active volcanoes dish out for decades, gathering extensive data on eruptions

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is one of the best places on Earth to study processes within basaltic volcanoes. Its high eruption frequency, easy access to lavas, and distinct geologic setting far from plate boundaries or continents allow researchers to address fundamental problems related to active volcanoes. Kilauea is also one of the longest currently erupting volcanoes -- its current active period began in 1983!

Another constant at Kilauea, besides the flowing lava, has been University of Hawaii geologist Mike Garcia. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Garcia has been leading studies of Kilauea for a generation, adding to the extensive knowledge base on this volcano.

Two of the primary goals are to determine what has triggered Kilauea's effusive, explosive cycles over the last 2200 years and when long eruptions, such as the current one, will stop.

The research in this episode was supported by the following NSF awards:

  • #1449744, Uncovering Hotspot Volcanism: Mantle Melting, Magmatic Plumbing, Explosive Eruptions and Crustal Contamination at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

  • #1347915, Nickel Systematics in Olivine as Fingerprints of Magmatic Processes in Hawaiian Basalts

  • #1219955, Hawaiian Ridge Age, Source, Composition and Melt Flux Variations: Implications for Plume Dynamics and Plate Kinematics

  • #1118741, Collaborative Research: Magmatic Evolution of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii: Past, Present and Future

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent and Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.