USGS HVO Press Release — A Volcanologist's Toolkit: How Scientists Track Hawaiian Volcanoes

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HAWAI‘I ISLAND, Hawai‘i — Have you ever wondered how scientists track the movement of magma (molten rock) within Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, and other active Hawaiian volcanoes? Or how they can tell if an eruption is likely to occur?

U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Mike Poland will address these questions and more during a free public presentation at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo on Jan. 21.

Poland will talk about the "toolkit" of methods and instruments that he and other HVO scientists use to monitor Hawai‘i's active volcanoes. Using the analogy of building a house, he will describe how it takes multiple tools and a team of scientists from different disciplines to understand volcanic unrest and eruptions.

Poland will also discuss how state-of-the-art monitoring tools have yielded new insights into how Hawaiian volcanoes work. For example, scientists can now monitor deformation of the Earth's surface using satellite imagery, and surveys of Earth's gravity can show where magma is accumulating within a volcano.

This presentation will be held at 7:00 p.m. in Wentworth Hall 1 on the UH-Hilo main campus. The nearest parking area is adjacent to College Hall on West Lanikaula Street. A map of the campus is online: 

Poland's talk is one of many programs offered by HVO in January, Hawai‘i Island's second annual Volcano Awareness Month. For details about this presentation and other Volcano Awareness Month events, visit the HVO Web site or call (808) 967-8844.

Daily updates about ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at

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