Isostatic models of a well-documented eruption of Kilauea are used to estimate values of h, the excess hydraulic head apparently required to initiate and maintain the eruption. All plausible h values are substantially larger than were heights of observed fountains, which confirms that viscous and frictional losses in the magma column during eruption were important. This conclusion is insensitive to changes in features of the assumed volcanic substructure. Effects of vesiculation cannot be satisfactorily taken into account, but it seems likely that the hydraulic head required to initiate the eruption was about 300 m. Further studies of effects of vesiculation and of characteristics of the clastic unit located below sea level in the Kilauea substructure would be advantageous.

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