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Characterization of the subsurface structure of a volcanic edifice is essential to understanding volcanic behavior. One of the best-studied volcanoes is Kīlauea (Island of Hawai‘i). Geological evidence suggests that the formation of the summit caldera of Kīlauea is cyclic, with repeated collapse followed by filling with lava. The most recent collapse occurred ca. 1500 CE, producing a basin that is several hundred meters deeper than the current caldera. In this study, we used two- and three-dimensional gravity modeling of spatially dense gravity data covering the summit area to suggest that, since its formation in 1500 CE, the caldera has been progressively filled by lava flows that are slightly denser than those found in the rim and outboard of the caldera. The geometry of this fill, inferred from gravity data, enables us to reconstruct the morphology of the 1500 CE caldera before its subsequent filling. The coincidence of fumarolic zones and thermal anomalies observed at the surface with the interpreted 1500 CE caldera rim suggests that hydrothermal fluid circulation is guided by the more permeable inner faults bounding the main caldera.

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