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On the Thermal Budget of Pahoehoe Lava Flows


Keszthelyi, László P. (1994) On the Thermal Budget of Pahoehoe Lava Flows. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/G5V5-T293.


In this thesis I investigate some aspects of the thermal budget of pahoehoe lava flows. This is done with a combination of general field observations, quantitative modeling, and specific field experiments. The results of this work apply to pahoehoe flows in general, even though the vast bulk of the work has been conducted on the lavas formed by the Pu'u 'O'o - Kupaianaha eruption of Kilauea Volcano on Hawai'i. The field observations rely heavily on discussions with the staff of the United States Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), under whom I labored repeatedly in 1991-1993 for a period totaling about 10 months.

The quantitative models I have constructed are based on the physical processes observed by others and myself to be active on pahoehoe lava flows. By building up these models from the basic physical principles involved, this work avoids many of the pitfalls of earlier attempts to fit field observations with "intuitively appropriate" mathematical expressions. Unlike many earlier works, my model results can be analyzed in terms of the interactions between the different physical processes. I constructed models to: (1) describe the initial cooling of small pahoehoe flow lobes and (2) understand the thermal budget of lava tubes.

The field experiments were designed either to validate model results or to constrain key input parameters. In support of the cooling model for pahoehoe flow lobes, attempts were made to measure: (1) the cooling within the flow lobes, (2) the amount of heat transported away from the lava by wind, and (3) the growth of the crust on the lobes. Field data collected by Jones [1992], Hon et al. [1994b], and Denlinger [Keszthelyi and Denlinger, in prep.] were also particularly useful in constraining my cooling model for flow lobes. Most of the field observations I have used to constrain the thermal budget of lava tubes were collected by HVO (geological and geophysical monitoring) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (airborne infrared imagery [Realmuto et al., 1992]). I was able to assist HVO for part of their lava tube monitoring program and also to collect helicopterborne and ground-based IR video in collaboration with JPL [Keszthelyi et al., 1993].

The most significant results of this work are (1) the quantitative demonstration that the emplacement of pahoehoe and 'a'a flows are the fundamentally different, (2) confirmation that even the longest lava flows observed in our Solar System could have formed as low effusion rate, tube-fed pahoehoe flows, and (3) the recognition that the atmosphere plays a very important role throughout the cooling of history of pahoehoe lava flows. In addition to answering specific questions about the thermal budget of tube-fed pahoehoe lava flows, this thesis has led to some additional, more general, insights into the emplacement of these lava flows. This general understanding of the tube-fed pahoehoe lava flow as a system has suggested foci for future research in this part of physical volcanology.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Geology and Planetary Science)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geology
Minor Option:Planetary Sciences
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Murray, Bruce C.
Thesis Committee:
  • Taylor, Hugh P.
  • Murray, Bruce C.
  • Albee, Arden Leroy
  • Denlinger, Roger
  • Stock, Joann M.
  • Stolper, Edward M.
Defense Date:13 May 1994
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03182013-160237674
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7525
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:19 Mar 2013 01:23
Last Modified:12 Nov 2021 22:05

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