Back in May 2018, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano saw the largest eruption in 200 years, and it spewed plumes of ash into the air, covering hundreds of homes in lava – quite an apocalyptic scenery.
This terrible event terrified local residents, but it also gave scientists an opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime to study the explosive behavior of the volcano.
There’s a brand new study that is claiming the fact that extreme rainfall managed to boost the underground pressures, and this was reportedly the dominant factor that triggered the eruption.
This is not even the first time when rainfall has been linked to volcanic activity, according to Jenni Barclay, who is a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia.
It’s also important to note that previous research suggests that storms passing over Mount St. Helens may have played an important role in explosive activity between 1989 and 1991, according to the latest report coming from Science Mag.
Intense rains fell before and during volcanic activity
The online publication mentions that “intense rains fell shortly before and during the activity of Montserrat’s Soufrière Hills volcano from 2001 to 2003.”
It seems that rain may have also triggered eruptions of Réunion’s Piton de la Fournaise volcano, according to some experts.
On the other hand, it’s also worth mentioning that Barclay believes rain is only a contributing factor to volcanic eruptions and it’s not the main driver.
“It’s a series of coincident events that have led to the triggering of this larger episode,” she stated.
Experts of the new study used satellite data from NASA and Japan’s space agency to estimate rainfall during the first months of 2018 before the start of that eruption.
“More than 2.25 meters of rain fell on the volcano in the first months of 2018, and 1.26 meters fell between 14 and 15 April alone, the researchers found,” according to the online publication.
Experts also made sure to create a model that would show how the accumulated rainfall could seep into the pore spaces in rocks underground, boosting pressures. This eventually caused flares in the volcanoes flank to open up and release magma according to some reports.