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USGS Groundwater Information > June 1, 2018 Highlights

USGS Monthly Groundwater News and Highlights: June 1, 2018

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Feature: Explosive eruptions at Kīlauea: What's groundwater got to do with it?

You have probably heard about the ongoing volcanic eruption of Kīlauea on the Island of Hawai'i, but did you hear about how groundwater can affect the eruptions? When the lava column at Kīlauea drops below the water table, groundwater can come into contact with magma or hot rocks. This rapidly heats the groundwater, causing violent steam explosions.

The role of groundwater in Kīlauea eruptions is part of ongoing USGS research and has been observed before. For example, in 1924, lava drained from Halema'uma'u Crater and dropped below the water table. Collapse of the crater walls, and influx of groundwater into the conduit to Halema'uma'u, caused repeated explosions between May 11 and 27, 1924. These explosions threw rocks more than 10 inches in diameter for more than 0.6 miles from the vent. Ash from the explosions fell from North Hilo to beyond Pāhala, pea-size rocks were reported to have fallen at the Volcano House, and gravel-size rocks were deposited 2 miles southwest of Halema'uma'u. (Source: The May 1924 Explosive Eruption of Kīlauea)

Want to learn more about Kīlauea?

 [ Diagram showing how groundwater can cause explosive eruptions ]

Figure: Diagram showing how an explosive eruption can occur when groundwater interacts with hot rock, building steam pressure and then exploding. Source: USGS. Figure is in the public domain.

USGS Groundwater-Related Publications

Animation of Groundwater Watch Active Water Level Network, 30 days

The USGS Active Groundwater Level Network includes about 20,000 wells that have been measured by the USGS or USGS cooperators at least once within the past 13 months. The animation shows a daily snapshot of water-level statistics in the network for May 2018. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

Construction and Calibration of a Groundwater-Flow Model to Assess Groundwater Availability in the Uppermost Principal Aquifer Systems of the Williston Basin, United States and Canada (05/31/18)

Influence of climate on alpine stream chemistry and water sources (05/30/18)

Groundwater quality in the shallow aquifers of the Monterey Bay, Salinas Valley, and adjacent highland areas, Southern Coast Ranges, California (05/31/18)

Status and understanding of groundwater quality in the Monterey-Salinas Shallow Aquifer Study Unit, 2012-13: California GAMA Priority Basin Project (05/31/18)

Geochemistry of groundwater in the eastern Snake River Plain aquifer, Idaho National Laboratory and vicinity, eastern Idaho (05/31/18)

Concentrations of nitrate in drinking water in the lower Yakima River Basin, Groundwater Management Area, Yakima County, Washington, 2017 (05/30/18)

Long-term changes in pond permanence, size, and salinity in Prairie Pothole Region wetlands: The role of groundwater-pond interaction (05/25/18)

Analysis of groundwater response to tidal fluctuations, Operable Unit 2, Area 8, Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport, Washington (05/23/18)

Effects of surface-water and groundwater inflows and outflows on the hydrology of the Tsala Apopka Lake Basin in Citrus County, Florida (05/21/18)

Imidacloprid sorption and transport in cropland, grass buffer and riparian buffer soils (05/17/18)

Preliminary synthesis and assessment of environmental flows in the middle Verde River watershed, Arizona (05/16/18)

Groundwater-quality data from the eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer, Jerome and Gooding Counties, south-central Idaho, 2017 (05/14/18)

Simulated effects of groundwater withdrawals from the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system and Piney Point aquifer, Maurice and Cohansey River Basins, Cumberland County and vicinity, New Jersey (05/14/18)

Compilation and analysis of multiple groundwater-quality datasets for Idaho (05/14/18)

Modeled inundation limits of potential lahars from Mount Adams in the White Salmon River Valley, Washington (05/14/18)

Hydrogeologic setting, conceptual groundwater flow system, and hydrologic conditions 1995-2010 in Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina (05/07/18)

Groundwater-level data from an earthen dam site in southern Westchester County, New York (05/01/18)

Irrigated agriculture and future climate change effects on groundwater recharge, northern High Plains aquifer, USA (05/01/18)

The influence of episodic shallow magma degassing on heat and chemical transport in volcanic hydrothermal systems


USGS Groundwater Flow and Transport Model Data Releases

Note: The following links take you to

MODFLOW-2005 and MODPATH6 models used to simulate groundwater flow and transport and base-flow age in two tributaries to the Upper Chester River, Maryland

MODFLOW-2005 and MT3DMS models used to design and evaluate a bioremediation experiment at the former Naval Air Warfare Center, West Trenton, NJ

MODFLOW-2005 model used to evaluate the potential effects of sea-level rise on the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system in the vicinity of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

MODFLOW-2005 used to evaluate the effects of withdrawals from two aquifers in the New Jersey Coastal Plain for Cumberland County and vicinity, New Jersey

MODFLOW-NWT and MODPATH5 models used to identify potential flow paths from San Juan Mine to hydrologic receptors, San Juan County, New Mexico

MODFLOW-NWT model data sets used to evaluate changes in the hydrodynamics of Anvil Lake, Wisconsin

MODFLOW-NWT model of groundwater flow in the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system

SEAWAT Data Sets for Simulation of Effluent Transport in the Floridan Aquifer System at the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant, Southeastern Florida, 1997-2011: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release

SUTRA model simulations used to evaluate heat flow from microbial activity at a crude oil-contaminated site.

VS2DI model used to evaluate groundwater connectivity of wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region, North Dakota

Field Photo

Scientists never stop learning! USGS scientists participate in ongoing training to keep up on the latest scientific methods, tools, and best practices. In this photo, USGS scientists participate in a field class about collecting groundwater data using USGS standards and procedures. A field technician is lowering an electric tape into a well to measure the depth to groundwater. He is leaning over the well to listen for the beep the tape makes when it comes into contact with the water. Other students are tracking the time, taking notes, and observing. Using common standards and procedures ensures that groundwater data meet USGS data quality standards and enables USGS scientists to better compare and analyze data collected at the same location over time, or data collected at different locations by different scientists. You can also watch a video about measuring water levels with an electric tape.

 [ Photo of scientist lowering tool into a well ]

Credit: USGS. Photo is in the public domain. Click on photo for larger version.

Archive of Past Highlights:

Past monthly summaries are available online.

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