Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Raela Richie L&S Math & Physical Sciences

Unraveling Kīlauea's Explosive Past using Fluid Inclusions

Kīlauea Volcano has exhibited both effusive and explosive behavior over several centuries, with recent studies suggesting that a 1790AD eruption that killed hundreds of native Hawaiians was not an isolated event. Despite the likelihood of future explosive eruptions, we do not understand what changes in the volcanic plumbing system or magma chemistry cause these shifts in eruptive style. This project will use the relationship between pressure and CO2 density in pockets of CO2-rich fluid trapped within growing crystals to constrain the depths of magma storage at Kīlauea during the last 2 explosive episodes; the Keanakāko‘i Tephra (1500-1800 CE, Swanson et al., 2012) and the Uwēkahuna Ash deposits (200 BCE-1000 CE, Fiske et al., 2009). We will convert these pressures into depths in the crust to determine depth of magma storage fueling explosive behavior. These depths will then be compared to FI measurements from effusive eruptions over the last 200 years to investigate links between magma storage geometry and eruption style.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you to my donors, the SURF program and Dr. Penny Wieser, Dr. Charlotte Divetre and Dr. Aaron Pitresuszka for their support in my development as a research scientist. I would like to extend my gratitude as well to the folks at University of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for their assistance that made it possible to conduct this project. Being a SURF Fellow has made it possible for me to investigate eruptive behaviors at Kīlauea Volcano, and to contribute to the ongoing efforts to better understand volcanic activity in the region.
Major: Geology
Mentor: Penny Wieser
Sponsor: Raela Richie
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