Resolve to increase your volcano awareness in the New Year

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Stop smoking. Exercise more. Lose weight. These pledges to improve physical well-being rank high on lists of popular New Year's resolutions. But there's another important resolution—one that's vital to mental well-being—to also consider: learn something new.

Resolve to increase your volcano awareness in the New Year...

During the 2010 Volcano Awareness Month, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) geochemist Jeff Sutton (center, with clipboard) talked about Kīlauea's ongoing summit eruption with a group of visitors at the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. In January 2011, HVO scientists will again promote increased volcano awareness by offering a number of public talks and other programs throughout the month. Details are posted at

(Public domain.)

In January 2011, Hawai‘i Island residents and visitors will have many opportunities to do just that—learn something new—during the second annual "Volcano Awareness Month."

During the month, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), in cooperation with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, will promote the importance of understanding and respecting the volcanoes on which we live through a variety of activities.

The learning opportunities include evening talks, guided hikes, a teacher's workshop, and other informative programs about Hawaiian volcanoes. To reach a wide audience, they will be offered on weekends, as well as on week days, with events in both East and West Hawai‘i .

A schedule and full descriptions, including times and locations, of all Volcano Awareness Month activities are posted on HVO's Web site. You can also call (808) 967-8844 for more information. For now, here's an overview of what's happening in January.

HVO scientists will present "After Dark in the Park" programs in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on January 11, 18, and 25. These Tuesday evening talks will include an update on Kīlauea Volcano's summit eruption, an update on Kīlauea's east rift zone eruption, and the fascinating story of Frank Perrett, a volcanologist who, in 1911, set the stage for HVO's work today.

A series of Friday evening talks will be held at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on January 7, 14, 21, and 28, with speakers from HVO, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and UH-Hilo. Their presentations will address a variety of interesting topics: Kīlauea's deadly 1790 eruption; how Federal, State, and County agencies work together to watch out for you during a volcanic eruption; how HVO monitors active volcanoes; and the relationship of volcanoes to early Hawaiian stone tools.

A talk about the status of Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, will be presented on both sides of Hawai‘i Island by an HVO geologist. On Wednesday, January 19, the talk will be held at the amphitheater in Pu‘uhōnua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. Then, on Monday evening, January 31, it will be presented in Lyman Museum in Hilo.

On Thursday, January 27, two HVO scientists will provide timely information about Kīlauea Volcano's gas emissions and vog (volcanic air pollution), an ongoing issue that affects downwind areas throughout the state, particularly during winter months. This evening presentation will be held in the Konawaena High School cafeteria.

In addition to the talks listed above, HVO geologists will lead two guided hikes in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. The first, a three-mile round trip hike to Mauna Ulu on Saturday, January 8, will focus on the volcanic landscape formed during Kīlauea's 1969–1974 east rift zone eruption. Then, on Saturday, January 22, a one-mile round trip walk along Devastation Trail, an area severely impacted by the 1959 Kīlauea Iki eruption, will be co-led with a Park botanist.

Park rangers will also guide weekly hikes in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park throughout the month. These hikes will take you through Kīlauea Iki (Sundays), to Mauna Ulu (Mondays), into Thurston Lava Tube (Wednesdays), around the Pu‘uloa petroglyph field (Thursdays), and down to the floor of Kīlauea's caldera (Saturdays).

On Fridays, a Park interpreter will present a living history program set in 1912. During it, you will meet "Thomas A. Jaggar," founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

On Saturday, January 15, HVO's education specialist will conduct "Learning about Volcanic Activity," a half-day workshop just for teachers. This fun and fast-paced workshop will feature resources and activities to enhance classroom instruction in grades 4–8.

As you can see from this overview, Volcano Awareness Month will offer a variety of ways to learn more about the volcanoes on which we live, work, and play. So, as you ring in the New Year, resolve to increase your volcano awareness by participating in one or more of the activities on tap in January.


Volcano Activity Update

Two lava flows remain active on the pali. During the past week, the easternmost flow advanced to below the 200-foot elevation along the east margin of the Quarry lava flow. The coastal plain and ocean entry remained inactive as of December 16.

Lava flows from an active vent in the northwest corner of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater have covered the western half of the crater floor. Recent flows within Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō have increased the height of its crater floor 13 meters (43 feet) since October 6.

At Kīlauea's summit, the circulating lava lake in the collapse pit deep within the floor of Halema‘uma‘u Crater has been visible via Webcam throughout the past week. The circulation pattern was interrupted sporadically by abrupt increases in the height of the lava surface. These periods of high lava level have been short-lived, lasting up to several hours, and each ended with a sudden drop of the lava surface back to its previous level. The lava high stands temporarily ceased at the beginning of the week, but resumed on December 14. Volcanic gas emissions remain elevated, resulting in high concentrations of sulfur dioxide downwind.

Two earthquakes beneath Hawai‘i Island were reported felt during the past week. A magnitude-2.8 micro-earthquake occurred on Thursday, December 9, 2010, at 10:06 a.m., H.S.T., and was located 22 km (13 miles) west-northwest of Kawaihae at a depth of 16 km (10 miles). A magnitude-3.2 earthquake occurred on Sunday, December 12, 2010, at 9:57 p.m., H.S.T., and was located 53 km (33 miles) west of Kailua at a depth of 36 km (22 miles).