Saving the Earth with asteroids

A republication of an older post

The dinosaurs would disagree. After owning the Earth, they were now in a bit of a bother. A major re-arrangement of the Earth had taken place. Pangea had split; Gondwana was broken up. The Indian ocean had formed but not in a clean way: a number of parallel rifts were running through Africa, and the easternmost rift had won the prize and been awarded the Indian Ocean. The other rifts did their best and did succeed in splitting off further bits of Africa. Madagascar went, but did not go far. A large part split off and a sizable landmass had begun to move away from Africa, accelerating as it did so. On its way, India crossed a hot spot in the crust (this is the hot spot currently underneath Reunion Island). It caused havoc. The hot spot melted a substantial part of India’s lower crust, causing the much-thinned sub-continent to begin to move much faster across the Indian Ocean. This finally ended with a major collision as it went at headlong speed into Asia. But before this, the melt found a way through and began to erupt on the surface. The flood basalt formed the Deccan traps, and in the process poisoned the atmosphere. The dinosaurs did not like it.

And then the asteroid hit, while the Deccan trap eruption was still in progress. Left alone, the dinosaurs would have survived the volcanics, and probably have recovered. As you read this post, you would have lifted your tail and thought about how Darwin had proven that humanity had evolved from tree-dwelling reptiles. Instead, the devastation coming from the Yucatan amplified the turmoil, spread worldwide, and caused years of global winter. Not a single dinosaur survived. Sometimes, the Universe just does not play fair.

We, the mammals, came out winners and we would have reason to be delighted about this unexpected course of events. But dinosaurs fascinate us, and their demise is regretted by everyone’s inner child. Both volcanoes and asteroids ended up with a bad press, presented as random killers which are best avoided.

But in this post, I will try to restore their standing. Asteroids may be dangerous, but they can also save us – from a danger that is still far in the future, but which makes the current global warming look like small fry. And fry we will, if nothing is done.

The Sun

Our lives are shaped by the Sun. We are creatures of the day (teenagers excepted), needing light to live. We also need the warmth of the sun, as we lack a natural insulating skin cover. But it goes further than that. Our world depends on a constant climate. The crops we grow need to be in a certain range of temperature and rain fall. Even a seemingly small change can make our crops vulnerable to diseases and pests, and reduce the yields. In some places we will now need to change crops to cope with climate change. But overall, we have been lucky. Over the past 8000 years, the climate has been remarkably stable. But it has not always been like that, and going back in time there were both ice ages and hot-house ages, when the world was different and habitability was not always guaranteed.

The ultimate driver of our climate is the sun. It is extremely stable: variations are only by 0.1%, too small to have a significant effect on our temperatures. There is an effect from the orbit of the Earth: the ice ages were triggered by a change in the orientation of the Earth, which affected how much sunlight falls on land rather than the oceans. A small change for the Earth – but a big change for us. But the sun itself was not to blame.

But it won’t always be thus. Very, very slowly, the sun is getting brighter. This is not on human time scales. When the Earth was formed, the sun was fainter by 25% than it is now. That was 5 billion years ago. The Earth compensated for the very-slowly brightening sun by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, lowering the thermostat a little. But this will not work forever. Eventually, the minimum is reached, and temperatures will begin to increase. Trouble will start in another half a billion year, and a billion year from us, the sun will be 10% brighter than it is now, and temperatures will have become so high that complex life will become impossible. Shortly after the oceans will begin to evaporate. This is still over unimaginable time scales. But scientists are paid for long-range thinking.

Lucky we have plenty of warning, and science has time to devise ways to keep the Earth cool. What can we do? Some blue-sky thinking is required.

To cool a planet

There are a few things we can consider. First, could we devise anti-greenhouse gases? Greenhouse gases let visible sunlight through, but stop the infrared radiation from the Earth from going out. Some gases act in the opposite direction: they stop visible light, but let the Earth’s radiation out. Can we add that to our atmosphere?

Yes, we can, but it is unlikely to help. The main such gas is SO2, which indeed has an anti-greenhouse cooling effect. But it doesn’t last in the atmosphere, and breaks down within years. So we would need to continuously pollute the atmosphere with SO2, and as soon as funding would run out, the Earth would heat almost immediately.

We can also create more clouds, but these have a fairly neutral effect: they cool the days but warm the nights, with little or no net benefit. (Also, creating clouds goes against the principle of blue-sky thinking.)

We can paint parts of the Earth white, to increase reflectivity. This happened during the ice ages, but it would mean keeping the Earth colder than it is now, so that snow occurs continuously at low latitudes, and does so without any break. A better way may be to cover 20% of the tropical oceans with a white material – but not ice.

Less practical would be a solar shield: a fabric floating in space between us and the sun. It would need to be three thousand kilometer in diameter. And we would need to devise a way to keep it aligned. It couldn’t be in orbit around the Earth. Keeping it stable for a billion year may be an unsolvable problem.

Can we move house? How about living on Mars? That is not ideal either. We would need to some drastic planetary engineering to give it an atmosphere that can keep it warm, but the planet is too small to maintain a stable atmosphere. It would need continuous re-engineering. A quick trawl through the estate agents does not reveal other vacant properties in the right location.

This leaves only one option. It is the mobile home solution – we need to move the Earth.

Moving the Earth

How far?

We don’t need to move by that much! To counter a 10% increase in solar brightness, we need to move outward by 3%. At the moment we are orbiting the sun at a distance of 150 million kilometer. This needs to be 155 million kilometer. A 5-million-kilometer move must be doable.

There are some consequences. At the moment the year is 365 days long. That will become 380 days – we need to put two extra weeks somewhere in the year, or add a day to each month.

This is just the initial move. As the sun keeps brightening, we will need to keep moving further, and as the increase gets faster, we will need to move faster. But let’s first do the first billion year move.

To move to a different orbit requires changing your velocity. To move 3% further out requires making the Earth move faster. Over the billion year, we would need to accelerate by 500 m/s. For a rocket, that is not hard. But the earth is a lot heavier than a rocket. How can we do this?

Gravitational assist

In fact using a rocket is not the only way you can pick up extra speed. Long-distance missions try to fly past one or more planets on the way, in order to use a gravitational assist: you let the planet bend your orbit, and in the process you end up go a little faster (going slower is also possible). It is also called a gravitational slingshot. Often, Earth itself is used. It is funny to launch a mission to a faraway place, and after 12 months see it fly past Earth within a thousand kilometer of its launch position. It is not an error in the directions – it is done to go a bit faster than the launch rocket could achieve by itself. Rockets are an incredibly inefficient way to pick up speed, because you need to accelerate the remaining fuel as well, and most of the craft is fuel. So space missions are paired back to the bone regarding their net weight. By using a gravity assist, you can get a few km/s extra velocity, and because you need less fuel, the actual spacecraft, the bit with the instruments, can be made heavier – and bigger. All large missions now use this method.

The ESA mission to Jupiter using five fly-bys to pick up speed, including three of Earth. (This trajectory has since been slightly changed because of the change in launch date.)

But the laws of physics are pretty inflexible, and they do not allow this to go unpunished. As the spacecrafts gains momentum, the planet needs to lose it. The accountants of physics insist on balancing the books. Now the planet is a lot bigger than the spacecraft, and it only needs to change velocity by an unmeasurable amount in order to keep Newton happy. The planet (say Earth) may be 1022 times heavier than the spacecraft, and the velocity change scales with the inverse of mass (in order words, mass times velocity is constant). So no worries – we are not doing anything bad. We are taking a few milli-pennies from the very very rich to pay off the debts of space travel.

In the example above, Earth is used to speed up a spacecraft as it is traveling to the outer solar system. That means Earth slows down, and as you slow down you drift towards the inner solar system. (It also means that as you drift inwards, you pick up speed from the sun’s gravity, and in fact gain more than you lost in the first place. In space, if you slow down you end up going faster. That is rocket science.) Inward, towards the sun, is the wrong way for us. So instead of launching things to the outer solar system, we need to use fly-bys of satellites to send the spacecraft inward, to the inner solar system. They slow down and we speed up, drift outward – and end up going slower. Such is life.

Using an asteroid

Ida, an example of a 60-km asteroid. It also has a small moon, which could be used as a gravity tractor.

Spacecraft are much too small to make a real change to the orbit of the Earth. Even if you had one fly-by every second for the next billion year, the change would still be a factor of 10 million smaller than what we need.

Now do the same thing with an asteroid. Take an asteroid of 60 km radius (that is big – there are not so many in that category). It has a mass one millionth of the Earth. Put it on a fly-by which slows down its own speed by 0.5 km/s. Do this a million times – and the Earth will increase its velocity by the amount we need. After a million fly-bys, the Earth is in its new, up-town orbit. And as we have a billion years for the move, this means we only need one fly-by from the asteroid every 1000 years.

Apophis, an example of an asteroid on an orbit which takes it close to both Earth and Venus

But after the first encounter, the asteroid is drifting towards the inner solar system. How do you get the asteroid to come back to us for the next encounter, for the next fly-by? Initially, no problem, as it will still be on an orbit that intersects ours – only the orbit will now be more elliptical, with closest approach to the sun closer than it used to be. But after a couple of such these gravity pushes, it is getting too close to the sun. How do we solve this problem? It is easy! As the asteroid slows down in its orbit, direct it towards Venus. Now the asteroid can do a Venus fly-by in which it picks up its missing speed again. Venus will slow down and move inward, heating up even more than it already has, but Venus is a lost cause anyway.

Venus will redirect the asteroid towards us, and the process starts again.

Health and safety

The risk analysis flags up one awkward possibility. A slight deviation from the intended course could be sufficient to instead of a fly-by, have a direct hit. And hitting the Earth would be bad. An asteroid that size will create a crater 2000 kilometer across, ten times to size of the one that exterminated the dinosaurs. Nothing would survive, and there would be no need to move the Earth any further. Now NASA is on record that there is only a chance of one-in-a-million that a gravitational assist would go wrong and the spacecraft hit the Earth instead. So, since we are planning for a million fly-bys, that makes the chance of a mishap 100%. (Actually, 50%.) That is not quite acceptable.

So, you need to be able to make small course corrections to the asteroid, while it is on the way. The earlier you catch a potential problem, the smaller the correction is that is needed. So, be vigilant, and once you spot a deviation, fix it immediately.

Such small course corrections can be done using a so-called gravity tractor. Put a spacecraft near the orbit of the asteroid, and give it a very small engine, enough to keep its distance to the asteroid but not enough to get away. There will be a tiny gravitation force from the rocket on the asteroid, but over time it adds up to a small change in orbit of the asteroid. And only a small course correction would be needed, so this can be sufficient. Remember, we have a lot of time. In the example of Ida above it has a miniscule moon which could be used.

A safer way

It is still uncomfortable to have a large asteroid flying past only a few thousand km above our heads. The margin for error is not large. Can we do better?

Yes, if you are willing to make a small sacrifice. Instead of the Earth, we can fly the asteroid past the moon. We will use it to speed up the moon, which will put it into a wider orbit around the Earth. After a number of such fly-bys, the moon will eventually escape from Earth altogether and enter its own orbit around the sun. We may need to fly the asteroid very close to the moon, but this is no problem as there is no atmosphere, so you can get as close as you want. And if you do miss, you only hit the moon and a moon-wide extinction event is also a zero-impact event.

The velocity of the Earth will not be affected to any significant degree by the change to the moon’s orbit. But once the moon is free, it can now be used for fly-bys. Because it is much heavier than an asteroid, you need fewer fly-bys – a few hundred will do. And they can be at a much larger distance.

Once you have moved the Earth to its desirable location, you leave the moon parked in an accessible orbit, for when you need to move Earth again. The Trojan point is best: this is the same orbit as the Earth, but 60 degrees behind it (or in front of it). An object in a Trojan point is in a stable orbit.

This will work for almost the full 5 billion years the sun has left before it becomes a red giant. (By that time, the sun will be twice as bright as it is now.) Eventually, while we are moving the Earth we will get too close to the orbit of Mars and a collision would become likely. That could recreate our moon (the moon formed when a Mars-sized planetoid called Theia (named in hind sight) smashed into the Earth) but that would be the only redeeming feature. We would therefore have to get rid of Mars in some other way first. I am open to suggestions.

Dinosaurs versus humanity

The dinosaurs died out because of bad luck. The Deccan traps was a survivable event. The asteroid impact was also a survivable event, at least at some distance. But the combination was lethal. What was the chance of the asteroid hitting while the Deccan eruption was in progress? It turns out, not that small. Flood basalt events are fairly common. Since the time of the Cambrian explosion, the chance of a dinosaur-extinction-size asteroid hitting during a Deccan-sized eruption is not far from 50%. If not the dinosaurs, it would have hit someone else, but eventually it would have happened.

But we are not dinosaurs. We can know what is coming, and our science can find solutions. All we need is imagination – and an accurate calculator. Physics can do the rest. Moving the Earth is not difficult. It only requires a bit of physics and a lot of time. Asteroids can save us again, as once they saved us from the dinosaurs. Only the dinosaurs would disagree.


163 thoughts on “Saving the Earth with asteroids

  1. Earth already had its most good times in the Sun .. perhaps most habitable in the Late Cretaceous or in Carboniferous, and the long time of habitability sun luminosity in precambrian just without oxygen and multicellular life.

    In the future the planet will become hotter and harsher for life, cO2 sillicate weathering will speed up faster than volcanoes can replace it, as Earth gets warmer, that may help things to stay cool, but without cO2 the plant life will die out and the animal life as well as free oxygen becomes a distant memory. And life will just become bacteria again, and landmasses turns into wast deserts.

    If Earth was in the habitable zone around a sligthly smaller sun a K Orange Dwarf then it woud last longer as habitable, K Stars are often seen as ”Superhabitable” A sligthly larger Earth woud help too keep the tectonics CO2 cycle going for longer and a better magnetosphere. ”Superhabitable planets”

    In 800 million years I guess most of Earth will be a silent eerie desert wastelands with silent seas and the only life are bacteria mats and huge fungus growths, the future is very sunny indeed

    • Also future continetal breakups and supergreenhouse cO2 phases will be far far far worse than PETM or CAMP when the sun is stronger and cO2 even more potent because of that

      Had Siberian Traps happened with 2% or 3% more solar luminosity perhaps the disasterous global warming woud have wiped out most complex vertebrates completely?

      🔥 anyway the planet is charred ball anyway in the future, and far later Earth haves To endure a crazy 5000X solar luminosity

  2. What are the orbital dynamics implications of moving earth out of it’s current location. Even tiny perturbations can have cataclysmic outcomes in planetary arrangements. Anyone have Kerbal to check it out?

    • It is only a small change compared to the orbits of the other planets. Instabilities happen from resonances and those should be avoided by the Earth is not close to any. The main risk is actually Mercury which has a small risk to fall in a complex resonance with Jupiter. If needed we could tweak its orbit away from this resonance.

  3. A redo of comment I made from this morning on the old post (which most likely won’t get read).

    Note that Pahala has gone dead quiet (“relatively” speaking) since the start of Kīlauea’s eruption…as evidenced by just a single M2.9 within the last week, with 27 shocks >M2.5 ( which is typical for Pahala) in the previous 3 week period.
    IMHO, this strongly suggests there’s a well confined, direct hydraulic linkage present between Pahala and Kilauea’s central magma source.
    Based on a report we discussed here a few months back that detailed how Pahala’a seismic zone was riddled with sills, I wonder if it’s a sill that has surfaced under the floor of Kilauea? This might explain the rather unusual location of some of the vents along the crater wall, the hotter temperatures and higher effusion rates as compared to the smaller dikes/conduit’s that have periodically broken through per the last several eruptions?

    • Kilaueas true magma source is under Mauna Loa where the astenosphere pipe is, Mauna Loa have the most Thoelitic magmas among Big Island. The pipe supplies the pahala dyke svarms and other magma storage areas at Kilauea, magma is perhaps also using faults among the edifices to emerge as well

      • You are partly (mostly) correct (IMHO of course).
        Recent research indicates that Mauna Loa and Kilauea share a common magma source which is located under Mauna Loa. From this source region, one conduit/pipe goes directly upwards under Mauna Loa as revealed by the Pahala-Mauna Loa seismicity band, while another magma feed moves towards (then under) Kilauea via sills as the Pahala-Kilauea seismicity band…which is where the majority of the deep Pahala earthquakes occur.
        Check out this recent article I posted a few weeks ago. It has a cartoon that nicely illustrates what may be happening.

        • Craig Heden, the following is a figure showing the evolution of magma pressure from Kilauea and Mauna Loa over the past few months. It is based on the caldera rim tiltmeter monthly figures of both volcanoes, which I’ve been compiling. I smooth out the daily tilt variations of Mauna Loa, and correct for the DI event of Kilauea:

          There are two interesting things. The first is that Kilauea inflation increased dramatically after a swarm of deep-long-period (DLP) earthquakes ~40 km under the summit of Mauna Loa. The swarm started around April 23 and lasted a few days. At the same time, Kilauea entered a major period of inflation that has led to the current eruption.I talked about the DLP swarm when it happened here on Volcanocafé, and noted that it was the biggest DLP event in a few years. But this didn’t seem to attract much attention. These swarms are usually minuscule, so they are hardly ever mentioned in scientific literature, but they have often preceded/accompained pulses of inflation of Mauna Loa, or Kilauea, or both, in the past. The swarm of 2004-2005 completely dwarfed all others and was associated to a 2.5 factor increase in CO2 emission rates at Kilauea, an increase of SO2 emissions at Pu’u’o’o, and one the most spectacular uplift events in Kilauea’s history, which extended all across the Koae area, and well into the Southwest Rift. The swarm of 2002 was linked to the first inflation of Mauna Loa in several years, and also around the time Kilauea was starting to re-inflate. And there a few other cases in the 1970-1983 period, I think.

          The second thing which I’ve just noticed, after writting the comment below, is that a sudden deflation of Mauna Loa around May 26, immediately precedes a pulse of earthquake activity in Pahala during May 27-28. Implying a Mauna Loa-Pahala relation. The deflation of Mauna Loa may have been associated to drain-back of dense magnesian melts that increased pressure In the Pahala Swarm area, enhancing earthquakes.

          So yes, Pahala, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea are interconnected and show coordinated behaviour. This is really a fact if you look at the data, but HVO, for some reason, doesn’t seem to check the data that it so excellently collects.

    • There are again some quakes shown in Pahala for the last 2 days, at M~2. I have doubts about strong link. As an aside, the tilt at UWE hs more or less stabilized, but at a value much higher than before the eruption

      • IMHO, there’s no appreciable change under Pahala indicating a return of seismicity anywhere near the previous, long term level of activity. Even during “quiet” periods, Pahala produces many quakes >M2.5..but as of now, virtually nil.
        As noted, there were 26-27 shocks >M2.5 in the last 30 days, but only one in the last 9 days…and as I write, still nothing more?
        Curious to say the least.

        • You can see in the IRIS earthquake browser for yourself. I have been looking and what is most obvious is a distinct flare limited to the NE corner of the Pahala Swarm starting around May 10, and pulsing until May 17 or so. This generated a temporal spike in overall earthquake activity. There was also a sudden spike on May 27-28 affecting all major areas of the Pahala Swarm. Activity has remained very low since June 4-5. Pahala activity is overall collapsing down, but this is a trend that has been in place since mid-late-2021. It reached a peak of activity in mid-late-2021, and has been going down since, and is now at its lowest since then. It is still much stronger than before the whole crisis started in 2019 though.

    • The deep earthquakes (30km or around 20mi deep) have the last two days moved towards SWRZ area. They are too deep to be connected to SWRZ, but maybe show a flow of magma at this deep level towards the deep system of Kilauea.

      Early 19th century eruptions on SWRZ were in part Strombolian, because they pushed out evolved magma that was stored there over long time. If we get a real/big eruption on middle/lower SWRZ, we should expect something similar.

    • Hopefully lava dome stays nice and stable, the government is taking the situation very seriously which is good. over 10,000 more people will be evacuated.

  4. The faint sun paradox can also be solved by the theory that surface temperature is driven not by GHGs but primarily by gravitational pressure effects. Ie when the sun was 25% weaker earth’s atmosphere was thicker and thus the surface temperature was warmer due to constant lapse rate. The same effect can be seen on venus and mars. It’s the loss of martian atmosphere over time that transformed the world from having liquid water to the current dry desert. Similarly Venus has a similar temperature profile to earth, with the temp only being 15 deg warmer than earth at 1 Atm. Lapse rate is driven by gravity and the average atomic weight of the molecules after all.

    • That woud give the Earth an avarge of 30 C as global avarge temperatures, similar to PETM, Equator Maybe unlivabley hot and humid in that chase and temperate areas becomes like earths current equator and poles becomes warm and subtropical.

      Earth woud become a jungle planet If placed there just like Venus was tought to be in the 1950 s. Its also possible that long term souch conditions because of all rainfall woud weather away cO2 and turning the atmosphere unfriendly for plant life.

      The increased water vapour from warm oceans at that orbit woud both warm and cool the planet as lt condense into reflective white clouds, But any further in orbit and Earths life capabilities woud die quickly I guess and the sun already Maybe too strong at venus orbit probaly

    • Sorry, but this makes no sense whatsoever. The Earth’s gravity hasn’t changed.

    • At Venus orbit I guess Ice Ages woud be difficult, even with low cO2 levels althrough the intense weathering rainfall may push down the volcanic cO2 enough to allow some Ice at the poles ?

  5. With the GPS updating enough to show the spike before the eruption there has now been 1.4 m of extension across the caldera since 2018. Given that the tilt didnt fall below the pre-eruption level I dont expect much of a deflation signal on the GPS either, seems that the magma system has filled up enough that summit eruptions are no longer much of a pressure release anymore, which is a potential warning considering the likelihood of future rift eruptions. This eruption might have been short lived otherwise like the January eruption but wall vent will probably stay open I think, so pkssibly several years of eruptions ahead from it.

    • That means something really big Maybe on the horizon .. like a big fountain eruption from a ringfault If the gas is there, but as you says the expanding magma body probaly wants to go itself into the rift

      • Maybe not that, but a flank eruption is likely in the next couple years. My first pick is on the SWRZ, but whether it is a proper intrusion from the connector or a rootless dike might depend on the elevation of the lake. I would think a rootless intrusion reaching far enough to erupt would need the lake to be high, but an intrusion from the connector might happen sooner, potentially even at the present elevation should this eruption stop.

        I mapped out the location of the wall cone and its fissure, it is oriented with the ring faults and not the SWRZ cracks, so there probably wasnt a SWRZ intrusion of any kind on the 7th. But it does show magma is present in the area and it did infultrate a ring fault of the caldera. As the lake rises it will probably do so at other locations, like happened in the 19th century, and in the 1970s. It also probably means if a caldera collapse happens again that it wont be so quiet at the summit as it was in 2018, the southern rim of the caldera is where the gigantic fountains of the golden pumice were. It is unclear whether those fountains were associated with lava flows, if they were then perhaps that is where the black ledge of 1823 first came from, 1959 was only 3% reticulite, compared to 80% dense lava in Kilauea Iki, so you can imagine how much lava was erupted by that ratio if the golden pumice and eastern pumice were each around 10 million m3. Although it is possible those eruptions were more explosive too.

        I guess it depends on whether these eruptions were later stages of the 1790 eruption or were erupted separately afterwards, after 1794 where Kilauea was seen with an empty deep caldera (from the side of Mauna Loa). Caldera formation would be more violent but if it was separate then the eruptions would probably be more like 1959 and erupted a lot of lava too. Degassing in a lava fountain like that would be one way to make the degassed lava that oozed out of the SWRZ in the years to come, todays lake is similar but evidently still contains a decent percent of volatiles if it could spawn a 200 meter fountain the other day. So maybe the two pumice eruptiosn were part of the 19th century sequence and represented ring fault eruptions instead of eruptions under the growing lake. I guess after 1823 the magma was more degassed overall so was not able to fountain as much, but it is also possible that some of the fountains even postdate 1823, we really only have a really reliable record of summit activity after 1868.

        • Maybe we’re witnessing a slow activation of SWRZ. The 1971 eruption showed that a pause or blockage on ERZ facilitates eruptions on the SWRZ. 1971 the eruption happened after Mauna Ulua had entered into a break. Scientists that year expected something to happen on summit region.

          The present eruption already has got the SWRZ direction inside Kilauea Caldera. The northern vent and the southwestern vent are in a continuing line of SWRZ. Next intrusion may cause something towards SWRZ. It would be interesting to know how the major SWRZ eruptions after 1790 commenced and developed. Does this period help to understand what we should expect? Do collapses like 1790 and 2018 block ERZ and open an opportunity window for SWRZ?

          • I think we witnessed the activation of the SWRZ in 2021, when there was that swarm down the SWRZ connector in August of that year. There was the nan eruption a month later.

            The ERZ connector would show up very clearly during inflation in 2020 before the December eruption, and it did so again in August 2021. But it has been silent ever since and with the normal linear deflation on the GPS that is typical of all of the south flank stations, showing there is not much magma getting into that rift if any at all. The SWRZ was very clearly defined in the runup to thsi eruption.

            The SWRZ connector was visible before 2021 but not very clearly, it seems to have taken over following that swarm, probably the only reason it hasnt erupted is because of the elevation of the lava lake in Halemaumau still being a bit low, but if Hectors numbers are correct then at about 950-1000 meters elevation or more it could erupt in preference. So about another 50-100 meters, which is probably in a couple years. It will remain to be seen how the wall cone might change this.

          • I also looked at the plotted motion for OUTL station. This station is directly over the SWRZ conduit at the southern outlet of the caldera, which is a small gulley that lava in 1971 and 1982 flowed through. I was a bit surprised actually.

            There was no abrupt vertical movement, although actually not a lot of the stations show the June 7 intrusion through vertical. However OUTL did move 4 cm east in the intrusion, which actually does imply a source of inflation in the SWRZ, and not at the conduit but the part that begins at Halemaumau… CRIM station which is at Keanakako’i moved 7 cm east. So it seems possible some sort of small intrusion dud go maybe a km or so down the SWRZ probably when wall cone formed. I guess the ring fault provided a fault to reaxh the surfaxe with. It would be great to have an insar but probably the lake changes would make it too saturated.

          • SWRZ supposedly needs the ERZ to be shut down somehow, because otherwise ERZ always wins. The collapse 2018 has maybe closed some of the magma channels from summit magma chambers to ERZ. This might be the chance of SWRZ to come to life again for some decades. But I guess that first the Summit has to get strong enough with magma & lava before something goes into SWRZ system.

            Has SWRZ already got any magma inflow either from the Pahala deep system or from the summit’s magma system? How much old evolved magma is there? If we assume that old magma is stored there from 1823, how far can Tholeiitic Basalt evolve in 200 years?

          • The Kamakaia hills eruption in the early 19th century was probably about 200 years after the last eruption in that area, maybe a bit more, there has been eruptions in this area for probably at least the time since the caldera formed and maybe over 1000 years. But the recent eruptions were still not really evolved, not as much as fissure 17, basaltic andesite. It also probably isnt found all through the rift only in the middle section that is where rifting seems to stop, and probably only the more seaward part. So if an eruption breaks out along the Mauna Iki line it will probably not be evolved.

            Would also just guess that the volume isnt huge regarding the evolved stuff, as most of the Kamakaia eruption was normal pahoehoe, only the start was evolved and maybe not all of it either. But then we dont really know how much magma was feeding fissure 17 either so the eruptions might not be very indicative of the volume in storage.

    • The spatter cone now makes Strombolian bombs instead of lava fountains. An indicator for weakness and later decline?

      • It is the same as before, just roofed over I think. This seems to happen at spatter cones that last a few days. If it becomes the primary vent I think it might break open again, or it might eventually collapse into a small lava pond.

        If wall cone dies off then I think the eruption will probably end within a couple weeks, then erupt again some time late this year. That might well be a recurring cycle, maybe with smaller intervals and more intense eruptions until it can erupt somewhere else or a proper permanent conduit forms somewhere.

    • Any chance for a New Puu Oo soon that last until I am 110 ? With the high supply it seems possible

      • It’s time to do some nice lava falls again like Mauna Ulu. They are a rare volcanic phenomen, but worth to repeat. A bit sad that Mauna Ulu happened before Volcano Café opened …

        • If you watch EpicLava there were some lava falls when it first began, when lava flowed into the lake basin from January in the east of the crater. That was when the fountains were not drowned in the lake so going strong 🙂

      • Could it be possible to get a Pu’u O’o type fissure on the SW rift zone, if the volcano is going to break out that direction? That could be a big headache for the communities there…

        • Yes, that did happen at the Kamakaia hills, in about 1820. But that eruption was only about 0.1 km3 or so, lasted a few months maybe a year. But if the SWRZ stays the preferred path for long enough it will probably go into shield building. That hasnt happened in at least the past millennium but then Pu’u O’o doesnt do much better so it is certainly a possibility.

  6. Weird dreams of walking Io s surface every week I have and also been dreams of Big Island going an Ontong Java Plateau Episode

    And I knows that neither Chad or Albert are supprised ..

    • Sulfur-based snowfalls, Pateras causing floods of lava tens of meters thick, fountains of lava fifty kilometers high causing aurora borealis with the sulfur particles in the sky, Niagara Falls of kilometers high lava…I’d be curious to know your type of woman ideal..xD

      • Indeed Io is infernal 🙂 the true Mustafar or Mordor competely un inhabitable.. even If the radiation was not there. Moon of doom.. and is my fav solar system object

        Very much like the biblical version of hell, Or should be just say Io = Sauron ?

  7. Hawaiian volcanism has really grown on me, and that’s solely down to the excellent discussion from Chad, Hector, Jesper, Albert and others. Your enthusiasm is infectious, and the more I learn the more I appreciate what this hotspot is capable of. Of course my most intense intellectual curiosity leans toward explosive, silicic volcanism, but learning to appreciate the intricacies of the Hawaiian Hotspot has given me something to occupy my mind while waiting for the CCN “Tallis” eruption of the 21st century =P.

    Just want to mention because I don’t often comment on these sorts of discussions because there’s nothing intelligent that I could add, but I do read and appreciate everything that’s posted. So thank you.

    With that said, it would be very cool to witness a re-activation of Hualalai in my lifetime; I believe you guys speculated an eruption this century (probably weighted towards the back half) is likely. That is a cool volcano.

    • And shoutout to Volcanophil, also. Knowledgeable dude contributing some good information and posing interesting questions.

    • These are also enormous enormous volcanoes compared to any other .. these are volcanic edifices that are almost marsian in scale

    • And If Hawaii Hotspot woud be in Atlantic in a slower moving plate .. then Big Island woud be 8 times as big as today I guess becomming a true Olympus Mons … even bigger over time perhaps .. Big Island complex woud grow GIGANTIC If Hawaii magma source was under cape verde

    • Hualalai would look a lot like Tajogaite and be freaking awesome to witness. However I suspect the Hawai’i Civil Defense would set up a ten-mile perimeter. 🙁

      • Hualalai will be an immense lava flood like fissure 8 put on a steep slope … plus superfluid low silica lava instantly leathal for anyone unaware sleeping below, making it the most dangerous volcano on the Big Island. Some of its vents are huge suggesting truely immense eruption rates 🙂

      • Radial vents of Mauna Loa can also cause interesting unconventional developments. 1859 a large and long lava flow surrounded Hualalai to the north and flooded an area which lies in Hualalai’s shadow.

    • Thanks Ryan. It is good to have someone that reminds us to appreciate things sometimes and to be thankful. It’s easy to get lost in passion.

  8. There was a swarm of quakes under Fagradalsfjall, maybe we will get round 3 in the not so distant future. Perhaps getting jealous of Kilauea.

    It would be quite the fun time to get them both going together, especially given how similar wall cone is to Bob

    Wall cone needs a proper pet name… Steve 🙂

    • Well, Reykjanes overall is likely in the beginning stages of a new ‘Reykjanes Fires’ from the Middle Ages. So we should expect revolving, recurrent activity flare ups over the next few decades, yes? Will the activity likely migrate to the other fields on Reykjanes?

      Also, my wife and I may be going back to Iceland for round 5 of our Icelandic exploration this fall, would be cool to finally get there during an active eruption. We hiked around Hekla this past trip and did the Fagradalsfjall hike which was an absolute blast (and not nearly as intense as I had heard, but we’re fairly used to moderate intensity hikes).

    • If we look at the Middle Age’s period on Reykjanes peninsula we see that the first eruption happened 30 years after Bardarbunga had Vatnaöldur eruption. It was “Afstapahraun”, part of Trölladyngja some kilometer to east of Fagradalsfjall. Now we again had Bardarbunga (Holohraun) 2014 first and afterwards something on Reykjanes peninsula. Fagradalsfjall was a small eruption compared with Afstapahraun, but happened only 7 years after Bardarbunga. The first “real” big eruption on Reykjanes peninsula may have to wait 20 years, if it follows the timetable of the Middle Ages.

      • Fagradalsfjall wasnt small though, 0.15 km3 is pretty typical for that area. It was just slow and long lived. Brennisteinsfjoll and Hengill can have bigger eruptions up to maybe as big as Pu’u O’o although 0.5-1 km3 is more typical.

        Krysuvik just has very intense eruptions, part of why Fagradalsfjall was reclassified as its own volcano after the 2021 eruption.

        • The volume was typical, but the rate was relatively small. I’d assume that most eruptions do lava curtains (partially with Surtseyan elements) with dangerous flash floods of lava, but shorter timeframe than Fagradalsfall.

          Should we expect that Krysuvik does the next things? It is somehow related to Fagradalsfjall and very close. If the magmatic system below Fagradalsfjall fails to erupt again, it may distribute some magma to Krysuvik.

      • I feel like if we are going to call it pu’u something it needs a Hawaiian name in full that I dont think any of us are at all qualified to do properly 🙂 but Peter is pretty good standing alone.

    • Tiny volcano .. its not Loki Patera
      But You knows how silly I am : D with my volcanoes and that sickly Io addiction

  9. This is all very intelligent, Albert, and interesting.

    However, the suchus and saurs altogether made in for a good 250 million years which is unusual. So I bet: In half a billion years we won’t exist any more, and I don’t really believe that this is to be sorry about. A species that is responsable for the “Sixth” (there were some smaller ones) extinction is nothing to be proud of.

    Take this and put it through some translator: They are thinking about sterilizing elefants from the air instead of pondering birth control for themselves while planning a new industrial plant with more concrete and less space for the animals in the east of Thailand.:

    Our knowledge might be kept well in some caves and might be picked up by another species from a planet in a habitable zone of another sun like star then, but only if they are more intelligent and know how to overcome large distances and also time. And maybe how to refrain from killing other species.

    Homo stultus is the only species that is able to rape its own offspring, so no regret if that degeneration dies out. Worse is though that everything dies out when the oceans evaporate. So let’s hope there is still enough time to realize one of those ideas.

  10. Looks like the eruption might already be ending, pretty much all of the vents on the crater floor are dying or dead, the lake is stagnant on the far end too. Only wall cone looks unchanged but it isnt exactly vigorous…

    Maybe that 950+ elevation only applies to ERZ eruptions, and SWRZ eruptions might have a lower altitude limit. If the 1823 black ledge was probably lower than the present lake elevation then that says quite a lot really. Maybe after large caldera collapses the SWRZ activates first, basically doing a smaller version of the ERZ cycle, and then sealing itself off which allows for the summit to fill higher and erupt on the ERZ. The SWRZ is shorter, so steeper than the ERZ, and thus technically an easier path early on. So maybe it really shouldnt be a surprise that the SWRZ connector is the only one doing anything right now.

    • As long as the wall cone keeps erupting at 1-4 m3/s the eruption can keep going, which I think could happen. Also, we are in a DI event right now; it started 4 days ago. When the elastic rebound of the detaching block of rock that is driving the DI event happens, it will increase Kilauea’s pressure and cause a small surge in the eruption. But lately some DI events have lasted weeks, so it is hard to know if that rebound will be happening soon or not.

      • I certainly hope at least the wall vent keeps going, at least for another week or so, because I am visiting Hawaii for the first time this weekend and early next week and have a tour booked for Monday! The trend today hasn’t been very encouraging, though, watching the dome fountains all die out and the lava pond begin to slowly crust over…

        • I don’t see any clear signs of the eruption stopping for now. The previous eruption had SO2 emissions for a whole month, which towards the end were down to less than 100 tonnes per day. I’d say chances are the eruption will be going when you visit, particularly if the wall cone remains active. The eruption could very well go on for months. I think Chad said, in the previous post, that one of the possible reasons the previous eruption was so short was that it didn’t form a wall cone. A cone erupting outside the lake could make the difference, avoids the eruption getting drowned by dense magma when a DI event hits. This dike intrusion seems to have been particularly big, which may have allowed to erupt outside the lake, where the earlier dike failed.

          • Although another factor that just occurred to me why the previous eruption died out so quickly is that Mauna Los was inflating extremely fast in the aftermath of its eruption. It was taking vast amounts of magma, and there may not have been enough for both volcanoes. Now Mauna Loa has calmed down a lot, very reduced inflation rates, and maybe we will go back to Kilauea dominated action.

      • Exactly Kilauea haves a large supply enough for constant effusion, perhaps our favorite volcano will go on non stop now when input match output? If it does expect some shield building, filling of the lava pond

        Eruption rates seems to getting down to the systems supply rate. Puu Oo coud have perhaps lasted ”forever” without the Leilani eruption distruption

    • The long eruption of 2021-2022 was degassing 200-100 tonnes per day of SO2 for nearly a year. Right no we are in 300 tonnes per day, so it is still elevated. I was looking at the MOUNTS project page. Tomorrow an interferogram will come out there covering the intrusion. Could solve some questions.

      • The spatter cone on the SW wall releases a lot of steam and gas, while lava activity in the lava lake has decreased. How close is the intrusion to this spatter cone?

    • The eruption rate is supposedly decreasing, but usually it takes some time, until it stops. Kilauea likes to do longterm constant eruptions without big spectacle.
      Now with daylight I notice the strong steam released from the vents both inside the lava lake and the SW cone. It shows that the magma contains much water.

      • Mantle water stoored in mineral grain crystal bounds

        • The whole SW wall releases a lot of steam now. Has the magma changed a bit towards water rich magma? Can it cause phreatic/phreatomagmatic events?

    • The wall on the southern side of Halema’uma’u got some cracks 2018 during the great collapse. At the same time, when the “down dropped block” dropped, the southern crater rim also collapsed a bit. This structure looks unstable. The “Vent on the wall” sits in this partially collapsed block. Can the present eruption destablize this block and cause a landslide?

    • I will start to get excited / concerned (maybe a bit of both haha) when we see an energetic swarm pushing vertically with rapid or somewhat rapid but not widespread inflation. That would be the signal that a path to the surface is being formed in my opinion.

      Coming from a system that is closed and presumably has rather viscous magma, I would somewhat expect any precursor to an eruption to be very noisy. Probably not unlike Mt. St. Helens, Pinatubo, or other dacitic eruptions we’ve seen.

      As noisy as it’s been, the energy would really need to kick into even higher gear before anything major would occur.

      • Totally agree with this, but I think the persistence of the activity implies the system is “on the path” towards an eventual eruption (whatever form it will take). Obviously it’s a vastly different volcano, but it reminds me of the reports of seismic activity and rumblings decades before Vesuvius went off in 79CE.

        I do believe CCN is building to something, albeit slowly yet persistently. Eventually, we’ll “know” we’re on the precipice if it follows the major activity spike of the systems you mentioned.

        There’s something inherently fascinating about a long dormant system waking up, which creates and leads to numerous questions most of which are still unanswerable.

        • The final swarm would likely begin when another large batch of magma starts to rise, by the looks of it the magma chamber has already ruptured but the systems is so closed and plugged that instead of erupting at a pre-existing vent, it’s currently trying to make another one. Fracturing earthquakes have weakened substantially so it looks like the rising magma and/or volcanic gas is slowing down. The volcano just needs a little boost now.

          • Definitely interesting Tallis and I appreciate your updates. Let’s see how things develop!

            I just meant this feels like a system that we’re on the immediate, real time verge of an event, it’ll be unmistakable.

          • Thanks for sharing updates on this, even if it’s not a run up towards an imminent eruption, it’s interesting to follow the progression and activity.

    • This bizarre volcanic system seems to want to erupt at any cost.

  11. There has been quite a tilt change along the puna rift as well

    GPS shows that station along the rift have started to move north. That indicates lower pressure in the east rift since the eruption started.

    • It has been doing this now for over a year, since the August 2021 ‘intrusion’ that was really the SWRZ connector reactivating. Probably most of this is south flank movement IMO, opening the rift but with no magma flowing in this is causing subsidence.

      • I’ve noticed 30km deep earthquakes below SWRZ. They are as deep as the Pahala earthquakes, but on a different location. Do they show a deep inflow/intrusion of new magma into SWRZ system?

        • I tend to think they are, at least they are somewhat related to magma movement. Although, if it is isolated they are not necessarily meaningful and could be settling quakes.

          But I have noticed there are more of these deep quakes between Pahala and Kilauea, more than for a while and also when seismic activity elsewhere has declined. So there could be some movement down there finally.

          • Didn’t both Puu Oo and Kilauea Iki be preceded by earthquake swarms moving slowly up the whole way from mantle border? If this now is a similar deep intrusion, it may open a parallel development of both the Summit’s SW expansion and the seperated lower/middle SWRZ.

          • There were no deep earthquakes before Pu’u’o’o. Some say Kilauea Iki was preceded by deep swarms, but those swarms had been happening for several years, and the link with Kilauea Iki is inconclusive.

  12. Deep and strong 6.2M (124 km) Quake off Balayan Bay near Taal just struck 2 hours ago. Wondering what effect it will bring…

    • Probably too small and too distal? For quakes that could have an impact on the stability of a volcanic system I always think back to the Luzon 7.6 before Pinatubo 91. Maybe the Maule quake in 2010 could be stirring things up too, but it’s difficult to dial in on what the potential impact is and what would’ve happened already regardless.

    • Unsure about Balayan Bay, but the peninsula hosts some volcanic vents and the adjacent Batangas Bay very likely has an underwater caldera. It all lines up with Taal, Mount Makiling, Laguna de Bay and a few older structures due north-east in the crustal extension zone known as the Macolod Corridor.

  13. What will Earth look like in 700 million years?
    Will the lands be mostly empty deserts like in Precambrian? I feel like life will go in reverse to simpler organisms.

    Since Evolution always work with the same body plans, not inventing New, yes reptiles evolved into birds .. But the body plans are evolved variations of the original land creatures that came up in devonian and evolved into the later vertebrates

    In 700 million years woud any animals be regonicable? Well 4 legs are certain If ground vertebrates still exist, I guess the biosphere will be in its last days then .. and be like an alien planet

    • After listening the fantastic loud chorus of song birds (nightingale, etc.) the last night, in the tent near Savonlinna, I again much thanked the providence that it was the birds and not T. Rex family of the Dinosaurs that were saved from the effects of Chicxulub!

  14. About the Kilauea eruption. An interferogram has been published in the MOUNTS Project web page covering the June 7 intrusion/eruption. A place where you can find satellite-based data streams about many volcanoes, SO2, thermal anomalies, or deformation (interferograms):

    So, I’ve been looking at it. Marked each half-fringe with colours, a different colour for each area of deformation. Each line is at 1.4 cm LOS deformation intervals. The pink lines mark a lobe of of movement towards the satellite, east and/or up (satellite looks from the east), which was displaced by the intrusion. Dikes always have two lobes, and the other lobe is the red one, the other side that was pushed away from the satellite, motion up and west (we know this area was uplifted because Uwekahuna is there). Orange is the presumed dike/cone sheet. The deformation pattern is strange, first because it doesn’t follow the Halema’uma’u dike swarm, which pre-2018 eruptions in the area have always followed, it actually seems to follow the western ring fault. The two lobes are asymmetric, the pink lobe has a more concentrated shape, while the red lobe fans out. I think this later detail could be caused by the intrusion having an arcuate shape, concentrating deformation to the east (pink), while dispersing it to the west (red). That there is an uplift on both sides means is probably a vertical dike, although it could also have some cone sheet characteristics.

    But the most unusual aspect is a third area of deformation that is marked in green. This sector has moved away from the satellite, and its western end is sharp, fault-bounded deformation, most likely shifted the ring fault. This area seems to have collapsed. The entire northern side of the caldera, outside of the 2018 crater, seems to have sagged slightly (up to 10 cm or so), with rupture all along the west margin (marked in black). The deformation is slight, a maximum of 10 cm or so. This helps explain the uplift in the Uwekahuna tiltmeter, given that rebound of the caldera rim must have added to deformation away from the main intrusion. Both rebound of the western caldera rim and uplift from the intrusion must have added to the red lobe, producing the rare, enormous, accelerating, uplift signal in Uwekahuna. Earthquakes along the western rupture were simultaneous with phase 3 of the intrusion, the uplift of Uwekahuna, and thus with magma intrusion along the western ring fault of Halema’uma’u.

    But the deformation visible in the interferogram is only from phase 3, it doesn’t reveal any information about phase 1 and 2 that were associated to subsidence of Uwekahuna.

    • The January 5 eruptive intrusion had a similar pattern of deformation, though smaller. I use the same colour scheme, the northern portion of the caldera sags down (green), and ruptures on the west side.

      The eruptive intrusions of December 2020 and September 2021 only show widespread deflation centered on Halema’uma’u, and no rupture on the northwest ring fault. The deflation is supposedly from removal of magma during eruption. These two events do not show any obvious intrusive deformation in the interferograms.

    • My prediction, based on looking at the first published thermal map.

      You can argue with my methods but you cant argue with my results 🙂

    • The Kilauea crater floor now stands at 915 meters above sea level. 950 meters is the lowest known elevation in which there have been rift eruptions in the past. Not much higher although now lava will start spilling over the down-dropped block, and the rise will slow down substantially.

      • The lava lake has now filled all the steep hole in the ground. Any meter which is added now vertically, needs a huge area of m² to be flooded. The “Down dropped block” lies nearly horizontal like Dutch land. It may soon get a lava flood, if enough volume is erupted. But a question remains: Is the vent on the wall going to destablize the wall and will a possible landslide cause an ashy explosion? The lava lake 2008-2018 had several rock falls with explosive reactions. A large landslide may have the same effect on bigger scale.

        • 2008 vent was a collapse opening up above a conduit, not a dike like is erupting now though. There was no pressure behind the 2008 lava lake it kind of just happened that the collapse was deep enough to expose the magma chamber really, lava was erupting out of Pu’u O’o. Wall cone is the only place that lava can get out of the magma chamber right now, so it is overflowing, it is more like Pu’u O’o before 2008 than it is like the 2008-18 lake.

          Not to say wall cone cant evolve into a conduit that might then turn into a pit crater if a flank intrusion happens, but it isnt that right now.

          • Volcanoes are unstable structures. Magma inflow below the wall cone can possibly destabilize the wall and let it collapse. If such a landslide hits the lava lake, what will happen? Will it cause an explosion? Will it cause a lava tsunami?

        • Yes, the 2008-2018 lava lake was a wide upward pipe from the magma chamber. It was continually gas charged from convection. This is a dike-fed lava lake with stale, degassed lava. It won’t explode if it gets hit by a landslide (I think, not that I’ve seen it before). Kilauea, though, might explode if the ring fault opens up and turns into ring dike, which is one of the things that I’m always watching out for. The northwest side of the older (1500? 1790?) caldera sagging and rupturing during the last two eruptive magma intrusions is not a very good sign on that behalf. I don’t know if the rupture is purely tectonic, or is magma-driven, problem is that we haven’t observed an intense explosive eruption of Kilauea before. We know nothing about the build-up or circumstances that lead to them.

          • It may be dangerous emergency situation for tourists if Kilauea does a sudden explosive eruption with bombs that even surprises HVO/USGS.
            Did the effusive eruptions 9/1974 and 9/1982 involve the caldera’s ring fault? They were along the Kilauea Caldera border south and west of Halema’uma’u.

    • Thanks for your creative and analytical work on the map! The orange curve is different to the line towards Kilauea Iki. Does it show an increasing orientation towards SWRZ?

      • So far everything seems limited to the caldera. There have been at least 10 magma intrusions since 2018. All of them have been inside the 2018 caldera, with the August 2021 sill being the only exception, which was a sill that originated from Halema’uma’u but continued southward into the Southwest Rift Zone, it is still a mystery to me where did this intrusion get the pressure from to intrude under the high elevation area of the south caldera rim.

        • That August 2021 SWRZ intrusion was also when the ERZ began deflating and stopped responding to pressurization.

          • That does seem true when looking at the GPS local length plots. I don’t get why, though.

          • My hypothesis on it is that the overpressure of the ERZ has actually been going into the SWRZ since then and is not directly contributing to the eruption. As in, the eruptions reflect the supply rate, but the SWRZ is getting magma while it is, or at least was, backflowing from the ERZ towards the summit, and from there into the SWRZ.

            Or at least this was the case in late 2021 and 2022, this year the ERZ has just been dead, the stations there all show the same signals as south flank stations, so magma seems not involved at all now.

            It would be good to get data from those stations actually on the SWRZ but HVO doesbt provide. But AHUP and OUTL both show strong eastward movement coming from the SWRZ so presumably there is inflation.

        • I guess it’s possible that it improved magma transport into the Southwest Rift Zone due to the August 2021 sill intruding from Halema’uma’u and all along the SWRZ connector affected the East Rift Zone. But the East Rift Zone already stopped responding to pressurization after the first Halema’uma’u eruption of December 2020, so it can’t be just that. The sill just marked the start of a continuous drop in pressure of the East Rift Zone storage.

          • There was pressurization in the ERZ connector before the 08/2021 intrusion, same as before the 2020 eruption. But there was very limited activity in the runup of the 09/2021 eruption and none at all since.

            I would take it as the flatlining of the ERZ graph after the 2020 eruption was because the vents were lower elevation than most of the ERZ surface, but also because basically the system was pressurized enough that the only outlet was to erupt. But then it found somewhere else and went down the other rift, and this took out a lot of magma. But because the ERZ was overpressured relatively then it took the fall and the summit was mostly unaffected. Now I guess it is at a similar spit but the ERZ is not connected until the SWRZ shuts down again, which might not happen until a full rift cycle has occurred.

            Pretty much the SWRZ being opened drained out all of the magma accumulated in the ERZ from 2018-2021. No way of knowing for sure but it fits the observations and signals…

          • And this would also explain why the SWRZ connector (possibly the same thing as the 08/2021 sill) flared up so much before this eruption.

          • It’s interesting how the buildup to the January and June eruptions flared with earthquakes a very odd location. A small cluster under Kulanaokuaiki Pali, I’m checking in IRIS and there haven’t been earthquakes there in earlier years, not even the sill of August 2021 made any seismic events there. The connector usually runs to the west of Kulanaokuaiki Pali, not into it. The last eruption’s build-up made many earthquakes there which is new. The entire 2010-2018 period doesn’t have a single earthquake there, where we now have a whole cluster of earthquakes.

          • In fact, some earthquakes are happening well beyond Kulanaokuaiki Pali to the south. I wonder if the shape of the connector has changed after the intrusion, lengthened SE.

          • I have the impression that we are in a “transitional” period like the years between Mauna Ulu and Puu Oo. Since 2018/2020 we may have entered a period which leads to something new. It is hard to predict what this “new” will be, but it may be a period with a certain type of eruptions / locations.

    • Also Hawaii news, Mauna Loa has inflated almost exactly 20 cm line of sight in 5 months, from late December to late May, as seen in A decelaration in April is visible. It’s still only a third of the 2022 line-of-sight deflation, though.

  15. Webcam, Kilauea keeps erupting and now its erupting at supply rate, so there is No reason it should stop. If Kilaueas supply rate is 4 m3 per second, Perhaps 8 If rest is rifted then You can imagine how slow the deep supply of many others less active volcanoes supply is.

    Most eruptions are caused by over pressure, this seems to be erupting at supply rates

  16. How heavy would a 60km asteroid be? If you could artificially create something controllable that would take the place of the asteroid that might just be feasible. Like the Death Star…

    • The Death Star was not quite what I had in mind.. may gravity be with you..

  17. The wall vent is now fountaining quite strong, not high but definitely is where pretty much all of the lava is erupting now. If it isnt already then it will be the only active vent very soon.

    It does remind me of the start of 1959, where the vent was a fountaining spatter cone for a day ir so before it grew quite rapidly as the vent opened. Not expecting a high fountain of that magnitude now but this cone is erupting through solid rock not the lake, and raising the whole lake by an amount that will get the fluid core to drown the vent is going to take a long time so this eruption might evolve differently than the last few.

    • The lava from the wall vent is also flowing over the crater floor as a pahoehoe sheet flow, it isnt flowing into the lake and disappearing or circulating in any way, so all of those dome fountains are probably completely dead and sealed up. It is flowing into the western lake basin but not strongly.

      The western lake is still overturning and might be circulating weakly but it looks like it did in late February when it was badically dead, if it is still active in a week I will be surprised. Wall cone is the new central vent. I think it will also signal a change too, because the lake will take so long to rise and bury it that I think it could start construction of a lava shield and completely separate itself from the rootless lake, perhaps even burying it. Maybe that wont happen but vents are very dynamic and this one probably has tge best part of a year before the lake ever encroaches on it. Think about how nuch Fagradalsfjall changed in only 6 months, this might be very similar I think.

      • And erupting at supply rates may mean it coud last a very long time

        This fresh lava is superfluid and shiney looks like the overlook lava thats erupting rather than stale stuff

    • How much is the evelation of the cone above the lava lake?
      It does nice fountains now with big liquid pahoehoe “bombs”. Does it have a magma channel from the bottom of the lava lake or a seperate one through solid rock?

      • While it is not 100% confirmed I would put all bets on this being a deep sourced vent with nothing to do with the lava lake, it is way too gas rich to be lake lava.

        That and all the other vents stopped, if they were all hydraulically connected at shallow depth the highest would probably be the first to go.

        • That had been my expectation. Instead it developed a good conduit while the other vents crusted over.

        • August 1974 is a great example of different batches of magma being erupted *from the same fissure*, and of course the extreme example is 2018’s Fissure 17.

    • The vigorous fountaining from the wall vent is probably a delayed response to the rebound from the DI event a little over a day ago. Right now, the volcano seems to be rapidly deflating away the inflation of the DI. It wasn’t deflating this fast while the DI event was underway.

      • The cone is on its own growing now with the flash floods of lava coming out. They should measure its altitude above the lava lake level and below the Crater Rim. It looks like 100m above the lava lake.

  18. Ahyi in the Mariana Islands is reported to have had some unrest:
    “Possible hydroacoustic signal was detected by pressure sensors on Wake Island (2,270 km E) during 6-8 June, and multiple hydroacoustic signals were detected during 9-11 June. No surface activity was visible in partly cloudy and partly clear satellite images.”

          • upon further inspection, admin, please delete this whole comment thread.
            No more updates today

          • deleting a comment thread can cause problems. we prefer to delete the text in the comments instead. There is a new post scheduled for tomorrow morning, so we will be moving there for the discussions anyway

  19. Lava waterfall (a lavafall?) Easily visible on USGS hawaii live cams

    • I looks like a pyroclastic lava flow coming out of the vent. Maybe all of the magma is concentrating now on this vent, because it’s easier than to flow through the lava lake.

    • I must say the erupting cone has a very unique look.

      • Pretty much looks interesting, but I have noticed something unusual with the cone in the past few hours, which is it slowly collapsing, kinda like what La Palma did in 2021.

      • I believe that hole in the side that seems to refuse to close is actually another vent, just not powerful enough to spatter. The fissure line kind of turned into a sort if tube too so probably connects into the flow coming out of the base, there was a 3rd vent on the flat block at the bottom of the slope which covered over fast but fed the channel before the other two. It is also looking like the channel is starting to break down.

        At this rate give it a week and it will have made a substantial structure, probably if it makes it that far the vent will begin to erode and widen, turning into a conduit. From there the possibilities are endless… but I am hoping it turns into a lava geyser as always 🙂

  20. Any thoughts on Campi Flegrei? I recently read an excellent paper that discussed how it has transitioned to “inelastic deformation,” hence the recent uptick in seismicity. This following inflation reaching and beginning to exceed the peak from the 1980’s.

    Essentially they felt what’s happening is that a growing deep body of magma is fracturing and faulting a mass of gas and steam towards the surface, which may eventually culminate in phreatic explosions. They stated it could lead to magmatic eruptions in the future once this new pathway is established, and it touched on how the caldera is in a state of internal restructuring.

    Of course I’ve seen some articles talking about the Campanian ignimbrite or Neapolitan tuff like that’s happening tomorrow, but since this is Europe’s Yellowstone in terms of media hysteria I’m not really surprised. With that said, the volcanic risk of the area is truly enormous, so it’s good that the public are aware of the danger. I can’t even conceive of the logistical nightmare that would be an evacuation even from just the Pozzuoli area.

      • It has in footnote 55 a citation of another interesting paper from 2021:
        In part 5 “Discussion” they have the subtopic “Volcanic Hazard Scenario” which shows what can happen at Pisciarelli location inside Campi Flegrei.
        They already observed “a fumarole field that has dramatically changed in the last 15 years, with the formation of very powerful fumarolic vents and a very energetic mud pool, which continuously increases its surface area and the number of boiling points.”
        “Particular settings, such as rocks characterized by several faults and related damage zones, could also lead to a sudden increase in heat flow and gas uprising, causing groundwater steaming and flashing that, in turn, may cause critical overpressure at shallow levels and trigger hydrothermal/phreatic explosions.”
        “Lava dome intrusions and small phreatic/phreatomagmatic explosive events characterize this caldera sector and are favored by the activity of the fault systems”
        Another threat are landslides. They can hit the fumarole vents and mud pool and may form an “impermeable cap above the active fumarole area. This seal increases the pressure within the shallow hydrothermal system, which could act as a trigger for an explosion capable of ejecting materials around the area”
        Most likely are not the worst case Apokalyptic scenarios, but some bomb throwing hydrothermal or phreatic eruptions.

        • Problwith Campi is tany erupit does has the potential to be apocalyptic, just because of where it is… So while all the news of it about to go VEI 6-7 is silly the warning honestly is pretty sensible regardless. The next eruption will probably be like Monte Nuevo, which was a mafic-intermediate not viscous eruption, the lava was 58-60% SiO2 but was apparently very crystal poor only 3%, so was not viscous. It would probably be a low silica phonolite or a trachyandesite but for some reason there is no source that actually clearly gives a simple answer, maybe why most of the uninformed sources simply say ‘basalt’ even though that is not really correct.

          Monte Nuevo was phreatomagmatic though, it had some magmatic stages which were stromboliuan and harmless but the vent gor clogged and exploded a few times. I remember reading once that one a day that looked safe lots of people went to the rim to look inside, where a small lava lake was visible, but were all killed by a strong explosion. Souts a lot like Yasur, fluid lava but explosive, although the latter is not phreatomagmatic.

          Most of Naples would survive a repeat eruption but even this would still be a catastrophe, the ground deformation alone would make many buildings hazardous, maybe more than woudl be damaged by the actual eruption. And of course if it is a maar eruption then it only gets way worse from there on…

          • A hydrothermal explosion would be like Yellowstone has done the last two centuries occasionally (last 1989). They can – with the pure power of steam – throw heavy rock around.
            A phreatic eruption could look like White Island’s deadly eruption 2019.
            I’d expect that these are the most likely scenarios. Small on global VEI scale (maybe VEI1-2), but may kill many people in a dense populated area.

          • Yellowstone has done VEI4-5 maybe even 6 steam explosions, nothing to do with any magmatic activity just decompression of the enormous hydrothermal systems, some of the craters are hundreds of meters to kilometers wide, they are basically maars but without magma. The biggest were from decompression after glaciers melting at the end of the ice age but they have occurred much more recently and still of large size VEI 4 or so as recently as 3000 years ago apparently. And smaller but still powerful explosions are rather common as you say.

        • Any merit to the idea that Yellowstone is actually waning because of the hotspot beginning to slide under the thick craton? It’s an interesting thought.

          I guess it’s hard to say, as the past super eruption was triggered by two large basaltic intrusions that activated the rhyolitic chamber over several decades, so until that process repeats Yellowstone will stay dormant in terms of large explosive events.

          What would differentiate between it being triggered to explode or just effusively erupt large quantities of rhyolite like 70kya? Always found that interesting as rhyolite isn’t known for its free flowing characteristics, is it related to temperature?

          And yes, it’s most likely we see shallow hydrothermal activity or nothing at all from YS on any sort of human timescale. I think a lot of the media hype around it has fortunately waned in recent years, but I don’t really view a lot of the disingenuous YouTube videos and other sources that hype it up.

    • GeologyHub just did an episode on it and I agree with what he’s said. It’s in an intermittent stage trying to develop a pathway towards the surface from the upper magma chamber, which in turn has led to a higher level of deformation, but which in itself is not all that substantial.

      Eventually it will find a way and create a Nuovo Monte Nuovo, but that could well be 100 years from now. I can’t foresee another caldera event any time soon unless the release of pressure was to have a runaway domino effect.

  21. The landslide that had been expected in Switzerland happened last night. First reports say that it stopped just in front of the local school. The area had been evacuated already a month ago

  22. Some large movements on the various GPS’s. This is going east fast. Further south, the main motion is north. It looks to me that the feeder to the east rift may be emptying.

    • That isnt fully updated yet, this is CRIM station now

      Not moving east now, maybe slightly west but not as much as would be expected, the jump east was from the dike opening. Biggest mivement is down but also not as much as would be expected, the big flood of lava at the start didnt really relieve much pressure, the GPS cross caldera is still very high even with how strong the fountain is now and seems to be getting stronger steadily every day.

      Maybe it finally happened, the Pahala magma found a way out, so now the supply rate has been increased. Its not a huge number but 3-4 m3/s seems insufficient to meet the observations.

      • The inflation rates were remarkable before the eruption happened, the fastest summit inflation rates since before 2018, so I guess it would not be surprising if this continued into the eruption as high effusion rates.

      • Well, it looks like the wall vent has noticeably increased its eruption rate, perhaps forming a new shield or, in a more unlikely case, a Kīlauea Iki type of eruption?

        • I think it coudl end up being both, the 1959 vent was an open conduit by the time it ended, if the ERZ didnt take all of the magma it probably would have become a shield like we saw at Mauna Ulu and Pu’u O’o. Shields usually seem to start with this sort of powerful fountaining stage, I think the prevailing view they begin gently was from watching Kupaianaha form after Pu’u O’o stopped fountaining, but now with the benefit of hindsight we can see Kupaianaha was only another flank vent of Pu’u O’o and not the location of itso wn conduit, it likely wouldnt have been named separately otherwise, it was nearly buried in the end actually

          • That is possible, or it could become a new shield-building phase (caldera burying) if it continues for a very long time, which would be very unlikely as the rifts zones reactivate again.

        • Maybe it’s going to rise above the crater rim and flood a larger Summit and SWRZ area. With the present lava output the cone should grow rapidly.

Comments are closed.