We think, conventionally, of volcanic explosive eruptions as being triggered in one of two ways: by release and expansion of volatiles dissolved in the ejected magma (magmatic explosions) or by transfer of heat from magma into an external source of water (phreatic or phreatomagmatic explosions). We document here an event where neither magma nor an external water source was involved in explosive activity at Kīlauea. Instead, the eruption was powered by the expansion of decoupled magmatic volatiles released from deeper magma, which was not ejected by the eruption, and the trigger was a collapse of near-surface wall rocks that then momentarily blocked that volatile flux. Mapping of the advected fall deposit a day after this eruption has highlighted the difficulty of constraining deposit edges from unobserved or prehistoric eruptions of all magnitudes. Our results suggest that the dispersal area of advected fall deposits could be miscalculated by up to 30% of the total, raising issues for accurate hazard zoning and assessment. Eruptions of this type challenge existing classification schemes for pyroclastic deposits and explosive eruptions and, in the past, have probably been interpreted as phreatic explosions, where the eruptive mechanism has been assumed to involve flashing of groundwater to steam.

You do not currently have access to this article.