The most active volcano in the world

how did it come about? Good question. A new international study led by Monash University will try to answer it. It’s research that has never been done before – what could have triggered the birth of the world’s most active volcano?

The world's most active volcano, Kilauea.
The world’s most active volcano, Kilauea.


Its name is Kilauea, and it never seems to want to rest.Where is it located? It’s along the southeast coast of Hawaii. Kilauea is estimated to be between 210,000 and 280,000 years old. It is thought to have emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago.

The study is published in Nature Communications. The lead author is Dr. Laura Miller. She works with Monash University. She shows for the first time what would be the origin of this Hawaiian volcano. It was born from magmas that evolved at an unusually deep depth (>90 km) for a magma chamber.

A magma chamber is a large pool of liquid rock beneath the Earth’s surface.

“We obtained some of the earliest volcanic products erupted by Kilauea,” Dr. Miller said. “We explored the formation of these samples through experimental work. It involved melting synthetic rocks at high temperatures (> 1100 °C) and pressures (> 3 GPa). We added the use of a new method to model their rare earth element concentrations.”

Its lava production is incessant.
Its lava production is incessant.

Activity that does not cease

“We discovered that the samples could only be formed by crystallization and elimination (fractional crystallization) of garnet.”

Kilauea, Hawaiian for “spewing” or “much spreading.” It refers to the constant flow of lava. The world’s most active volcano never rests.

“Our study demonstrates this unambiguously. We discuss the importance of the role of garnet crystallization in the formation of Hawaiian melts in the pre-volcanic shield stage,” Dr. Miller said.

“This challenges the current view that fractional crystallization is only a surface process. We suggest that the development of a deep magma chamber (> 90 km) is an important early stage in the birth of a Hawaiian volcano.”

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