A University of Miami scientists have found that excessive and prolonged rains, that are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change and can trigger volcanic eruptions. They came to this conclusion after studying the reasons for the activity of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. An article with the results of the study, revealing a new threat due to extreme precipitation, is published in the journal Nature.
Experts analyzed the results of ground and satellite observations of precipitation and estimated the pressure at a depth of 1-3 kilometers under Kilauea over time. It turned out that the growing pressure peaked half a century before the most destructive eruption. Just before the eruption, there was a heavy downpour, and an increase in the level of liquid in cracks and porous rocks contributed to the destruction of rocks and the movement of magma. This corresponds to the observation that Kilauea activity increases during wet and rainy years.
This is the first evidence of the influence of rains on the deep mechanisms of volcanic activity. Before that, it was known that precipitation can cause steam emissions and small earthquakes. Because of the increase in pressure in deep rocks, eruptions may occur in other places around the world, the researchers conclude.
On may 3, 2018, there was an unprecedented eruption of Kilauea on the Big island, which destroyed several hundred homes on the densely populated East coast.