Southward growth of Mauna Loa’s dike-like magma body driven by topographic stress

Bhuvan Varugu, Falk Amelung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Space-geodetic observations of a new period of inflation at Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii, recorded an influx of 0.11 km3 of new magma into it’s dike-like magma body during 2014–2020. The intrusion started after at least 4 years of decollement slip under the eastern flank creating > 0.15 MPa opening stresses in the rift zone favorable for magma intrusion. Volcanoes commonly respond to magma pressure increase with the injection of a dike, but Mauna Loa responded with lateral growth of its magma body in the direction of decreasing topographic stress. In 2017, deformation migrated back, and inflation continued at the pre-2015 location. Geodetic inversions reveal a 8 × 8.5, 10 × 3 and 9 × 4 km2 dike-like magma body during the 2014–2015, 2015–2018 and 2018–2020 periods, respectively, and an average decollement slip of ~ 23 cm/year along a 10 × 5 km2 fault. The evolution of the dike-like magma body including the reduction in vertical extent is consistent with a slowly ascending dike propagating laterally when encountering a stress barrier and freezing its tip when magma influx waned. Overall, the magma body widened about 4.5 m during 2002–2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9816
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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