Kīlauea is considered, according to many, the most active volcano on our planet. Thanks to the new research, it will likely be possible to determine its exact source.
From 210,000 to 280,000 years ago, plate tectonics in the Pacific Ocean shifted, causing magma to rise into the water. Cooling caused it to harden and form a huge “shield”. About 100,000 years ago, this structure began to rise above the surface of the ocean.
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However, recreating this part of the Kīlauea volcano’s past was not as difficult as locating the rocks that were ejected thousands of years ago. It is hidden under several layers of newer lava. Their extraction and analysis have provided insight into the famous volcano’s distant past. While it has long been believed that its birth was due to partial melting of hard rock under the influence of heat, new research has provided no evidence to support this.
The results of the scientists are described on the pages Nature Communications, indicating that Kīlauea was formed by partial crystallization rather than partial dissolution. This term refers to the formation of crystals in deep magma pools that do not subsequently react with the remaining portions of magma.
Kīlauea volcano is located in Hawaii
In order to recreate the processes that could lead to the analyzed samples, members of the research team tested different parameters of temperature and pressure, checking how the materials behave under certain conditions. Temperatures exceeded up to 1100 ° C, pressure – 3 GPa. The researchers also applied a new method to model concentrations of rare earths.
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In this way, the scientists were able to demonstrate that the most likely sample formation scenario assumed the participation of partial crystallization. Pomegranate is a mineral that forms in the presence of high temperature and pressure. It can form at depths of up to 150 kilometers, although the authors of the research do not believe that the source of the described volcano reaches this depth. In their opinion, the variant is likely to be from about 90 kilometers. Regardless of the exact depth, one thing is for sure: Kīlauea’s roots are deeper than you think.
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