The first maps showing volcanic hazard zones on Hawai‘i Island were prepared in 1974 by U.S.
How can Hawai‘i Island residents determine the lava-flow hazard zones in which their properties are located?
The published Lava-Flow Hazard Zone Map (paper copy) was not intended to be used at a scale necessary to identify individual parcels on the map. However, digital mapping software can offer new options for this determination:
The Lava Flow Hazard Zone map was designed for general planning purposes only. The following statement is included on the published map (USGS Miscellaneous Field Studies Map 2193):
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).
What can a home owner do if a lava-flow hazard zone is used as a reason for non-renewal of a home owner’s insurance policy?
An option is to contact the State of Hawai‘i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Their Website states that they investigate insurance-related complaints.
If the map was made for general planning purposes, why were so many building permits issued and so much construction allowed in Zones 1 and 2?
While the USGS prepared and made available the Lava-Flow Hazard Zone Map for general information and planning by land-use managers, there is no legislation requiring its use.
Why is an area freshly covered by lava designated as Zone 2, while another area not recently threatened by lava is designated as Zone 1?
Lava-flow hazard zones reflect the long-term hazard of lava flows, not the short term hazard. Rate of lava coverage—not how recently lava covered an area—is the basis of long-term lava flow hazard.
Why is Kalapana (an area inundated by lava in 1990) in Zone 2, while Leilani Estates (which has not as recently been inundated) is in Zone 1?
Kalapana is about 13 km (8 mi) downslope of Kīlauea’s east rift zone.
The following two papers contain more detailed information about Hawaii lava-flow hazards:
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