Monitoring the cooling of the 1959 Kīlauea Iki lava lake using surface magnetic measurements

  • Lydie GaillerEmail author
  • Jim Kauahikaua
Research Article


Lava lakes can be considered as proxies for small magma chambers, offering a unique opportunity to investigate magma evolution and solidification. Repeated magnetic ground surveys over more than 50 years each show a large vertical magnetic intensity anomaly associated with Kīlauea Iki Crater, partly filled with a lava lake during the 1959 eruption of Kīlauea Volcano (Island of Hawai’i). The magnetic field values recorded across the Kīlauea Iki crater floor and the cooling lava lake below result from three simple effects: the static remnant magnetization of the rocks forming the steep crater walls, the solidifying lava lake crust, and the hot, but shrinking, paramagnetic non-magnetic lens (>540 °C). We calculate 2D magnetic models to reconstruct the temporal evolution of the geometry of this non-magnetic body, its depth below the surface, and its thickness. Our results are in good agreement with the theoretical increase in thickness of the solidifying crust with time. Using the 2D magnetic models and the theoretical curve for crustal growth over a lava lake, we estimate that the former lava lake will be totally cooled below the Curie temperature in about 20 years. This study shows the potential of magnetic methods for detecting and monitoring magmatic intrusions at various scales.


Kīlauea Iki lava lake cooling Thermal evolution Magnetic anomaly 



This research was financed by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), the French Government Laboratory of Excellence initiative no. ANR-10-LABX-238, the Région Auvergne, the European Regional Development Fund, and the INSU Funds. We greatly acknowledge the staff of HVO, the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and the staff of LMV for their strong support. We also thank the staff of ABEM France for their help and support for the GSM magnetometer during the 2015 survey. The manuscript greatly benefited from the comments and reviews from Jeff Phillips, Wendy K. Stovall, and an anonymous reviewer, to whom we offer our thanks.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Clermont Auvergne, Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans- CNRS, UMR 6524, IRD, R 163Aubiere Cedex1France
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano ObservatoryHiloUSA

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