The 2018 eruption of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawai’i provided scientists with an unprecedented opportunity to identify new factors that could help forecast the hazard potential of future eruptions.
The properties of the magma inside a volcano affect how an eruption will play out. In particular, the viscosity of this molten rock is a major factor in influencing how hazardous an eruption could be for nearby communities.
Very viscous magmas are linked with more powerful explosions because they can block gas from escaping through vents, allowing pressure to build up inside the volcano’s plumbing system. On the other hand, extrusion of more viscous magma results in slower-moving lava flows.