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Abstract

A permanent thermal monitoring system deployed on the north rim of Pu'u 'O'o crater (Kilauea, Hawaii) provided an 811-day-long data-set spanning March 2001–December 2003. These data allowed us to characterize three emission styles from vents on the crater floor: lava flows, sustained degassing and gas-piston events. Lava flows were recorded as sudden increases in temperature followed by smooth and relatively long-lasting decreases as the lava cooled. Sustained degassing was associated with persistently high levels of thermal signal and was the most common signal type. Finally, gas-piston events were all preceded by marked reductions in temperature (due to diminished degassing) and were marked by abrupt increases (due to the arrival of a gas jet) followed by 50–300 second waning phases. Lava flow occurrence, maximum temperature recorded during degassing, gas-piston thermal amplitude, occurrence and waveform all showed coupled, systematic changes through time. This implies modification of a common source process, and may be a result of a slight change in the magma level beneath the crater so as to modify the conduit geometry/primary degassing pathways, and hence gas collection and release processes, as well as slug ascent dynamics.

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