• Kilauea Volcano;
  • magmatic volatiles;
  • groundwater chemistry;
  • water-rock interaction;
  • hydrothermal system;
  • mass transport

[1] We interpret new chemical and isotopic data from samples collected between October 1998 and March 2002 from the NSF well (also called the Keller well), the only deep well on the summit of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. Sample collection followed cleaning of the well, which renewed access to the hydrothermal system very close to the loci of magmatic and fumarolic activity. The chemical and isotopic compositions of the new samples differ remarkably from data published previously. On the basis of the S/Cl ratio and carbon and helium isotopes we conclude that the thermal fluids formed by condensation of magmatic gas into shallow meteoric groundwater. Gas condensation was followed by a complex pattern of basalt dissolution accompanied by an increase of fluid pH and precipitation of secondary minerals. Geochemical modeling and geothermometry imply that the fluids equilibrated with an assemblage of secondary minerals at temperatures between 90 and 140°C. The significantly different chemical composition of the NSF well fluids from that of springs along the southern coast of the island indicates that mass transport from the summit region toward the lower flanks of the volcano is limited.