Hawaii Lava Flow Hazard Zone Maps - 14 of 19

Hawaii Lava Flow Hazard Zone Maps FAQs - 19 Found

What can a home owner do if a company uses the map to set elevated insurance or mortgage rates?

An option is to contact the State of Hawai‘i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.


The USGS Lava-Flow Hazard Zone Map is meant to convey relative volcanic hazard rather than risk (see “Hazard vs. Risk” below).


Hazard vs. Risk


A volcanic hazard is defined as a destructive event that can occur in a given area or location, such as a lava flow or a volcanic earthquake, along with the probability of the event's occurrence. It is important to be aware of and understand the hazard, but, in a practical sense, nothing can be done to reduce the hazard itself—i.e., volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are beyond human control. Hazard assessments are done by physical scientists, such as the volcanologists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO).


Risk, which is quite different from hazard, is defined as the hazard, multiplied by the vulnerability (the proportion of some resource, like people or land likely to be affected if the event occurs) multiplied, in turn, by the value (lives or property threatened). In shorthand: Risk = Hazard x Vulnerability x Value.


Risk can be mitigated—i.e., people can take actions to reduce their risk to a particular hazard. Risk assessment and mitigation involve social scientists who have expertise in determining “value” and “vulnerability” as defined in the above formula.


Example of hazard vs. risk: In Washington, Mount St. Helens poses many volcanic hazards, such as lava flows and ash fall, as well as high risk, because nearby and surrounding communities (people) and associated infrastructure (homes, roads, schools, etc.) could be threatened by an eruption. On Jupiter’s volcanically active moon, Io, there are abundant volcanic hazards, but no risk, because human lives and property are not threatened by the eruptions.


A published study indicating the relative risk of lava inundation in Zones 1 and 2 is not available at this time, so inquiries or complaints about increased rates should go to the respective insurance or mortgage companies.


The question of who will create risk maps for Hawai‘i and other states with active, or potentially active, volcanoes is currently a topic of great interest.

Tags: Geothermal Resources, Earthquakes, Tectonics, Monitoring, Volcanoes, Lava, Seismicity, Ring of Fire