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New Study Explains Connection Between Hawaii’s Dueling Volcanoes

A new study will be released that helps to explain the connection between Mauna Loa and Kilauea:

A new Rice University-led study finds that a deep connection about 50 miles underground can explain the enigmatic behavior of two of Earth’s most notable volcanoes, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The study, the first to model paired volcano interactions, explains how a link in Earth’s upper mantle could account for Kilauea and Mauna Loa’s competition for the same deep magma supply and their simultaneous “inflation,” or bulging upward, during the past decade.

NPS Photo

The study appears in the November issue of Nature Geoscience. The research offers the first plausible model that can explain both the opposing long-term eruptive patterns at Mauna Loa and Kilauea—when one is active the other is quiet—as well as the episode in 2003-2007 when GPS records showed that each bulged notably due to the pressure of rising magma. The study was conducted by scientists at Rice University, the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

“We know both volcanoes are fed by the same hot spot, and over the past decade we’ve observed simultaneous inflation, which we interpret to be the consequence of increased pressure of the magma source that feeds them,” said lead author Helge Gonnermann, assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University. “We also know there are subtle chemical differences in the lava that each erupts, which means each has its own plumbing that draws magma from different locations of this deep source.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-hawaii-dueling-volcanoes.html#jCp