EARTH: Kilauea eruptions could shift from mild to wild

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is famously effusive: Low-viscosity lava has been oozing out of the main caldera and two active rift zones along the southern shore of the Big Island since 1983. But scientists suspect that Kilauea's eruptions haven't always been so mild. In the past 2,500 years, at least two cycles of explosive eruptions lasting several centuries each have rocked the island. The switch from effusive to explosive is likely to occur again, scientists say, but probably not anytime soon.

Read more about what ash deposits left by previous eruptions show about Kilauea's history and future in the October issue of EARTH magazine.

For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH magazine online or subscribe at www.earthmagazine.org. The October issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features stories on the activity of the Alaskan megathrust fault beneath Kodiak, a new proxy for determining past ocean acidification levels, and a retrospective on the construction of the Panama Canal, plus much, much more.