Kīlauea Volcano (Hawaiʻi, USA) is underlain by a complex, laterally extensive magmatic plumbing system. Although in recent decades it has mainly erupted through vents along the middle East Rift Zone and summit caldera, eruptions can occur anywhere along its laterally extensive rift zones, as demonstrated by the dramatic eruptive activity of 2018. Forecasting eruptive activity requires an understanding of whether an episode of volcano-seismic unrest at Kīlauea and similar volcanoes is caused directly at the edges of an active intrusion or reservoir, or in a volume of wall rock at a distance from the intrusion. Seismic unrest in Kīlauea’s upper East Rift Zone (UERZ) has to date been interpreted as the result either of magma intrusion in this region of the volcano or of stresses due to seaward flank migration. However, recent observations suggest that UERZ seismicity may result from variable pressurization of Kīlauea’s summit magma system. We analyze seismic and deformation (multi-temporal interferometric synthetic aperture radar [InSAR] and GPS) data during a period of variable summit deformation and UERZ seismicity in mid- to late 2007 and calculate Coulomb stress changes on UERZ faults due to modeled summit inflation or deflation. UERZ seismicity during our study period can be explained entirely by stresses arising from pressure changes within Kīlauea’s summit reservoirs. Furthermore, a comparison of UERZ fault plane solutions (FPSs) calculated for this study to published UERZ FPSs for previous periods suggests that the UERZ has undergone a transition from a mechanically strong, discontinuous, and immature magma transport system to a mature, mechanically weak, and fully connected transport system over the course of the 1983–2018 eruption.

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