Disruption of the Mauna Loa Magma System by the 1868 Hawaiian Earthquake: Geochemical Evidence

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Science  09 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4785, pp. 196-199
DOI: 10.1126/science.235.4785.196


To test whether a catastrophic earthquake could affect an active magma system, mean abundances (adjusted for "olivine control") of titanium, potassium, phosphorus, strontium, zirconium, and niobium of historic lavas erupted from Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaii, after 1868 were analyzed and were found to decrease sharply relative to lavas erupted before 1868. This abrupt change in lava chemistry, accompanied by a halved lava-production rate for Mauna Loa after 1877, is interpreted to reflect the disruptive effects of a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 1868. This interpretation represents a documentable case of changes in magmatic chemical variations initiated or accelerated by a major tectonic event.