USGS HVO Press Release - Engage in Hands-On Science at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s Centennial Open House

Release Date:

Hawai‘i ISLAND, Hawai‘i — The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory celebrates 100 years of cutting-edge volcano monitoring with a free public open house Saturday, Jan. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The observatory, located on the rim of Kīlauea Volcano's summit caldera next to Jaggar Museum in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, is usually closed to the public. On Jan. 21, the observatory will open for public tours, exhibits and demonstrations. The National Park Service has granted free admission to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Saturday in honor of HVO's centennial.

Island residents and visitors will be able to learn about the eruptive history and current status of Hawai‘i's active volcanoes and how HVO scientists monitor them. Among the many activities:

See evidence of Kīlauea's explosive eruptions in 200- to 300-year-old ash layers exposed near the observatory. An HVO scientist will tell the story of these deposits on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn how thermal and time-lapse images can "see" heat and are used to study and document volcanic activity.

Look through a microscope at ‘a‘ā and pāhoehoe lava, Pele's hair and tears, and more.
Test the acidity of your drinking water. Bring a small, clean plastic container filled with the water you want tested.

See a gas chromatograph in action, "taste" (learn to recognize) volcanic gases and watch a sulfur gas experiment.

Learn how and why HVO scientists measure changes in a volcano's shape.

See examples of the instruments that are used to monitor Hawai‘i's volcanoes.

See how data from 100+ field stations that record volcanic and earthquake activity 24/7 are analyzed and made public.

Sketch a Hawaiian volcano or your vision of an eruption.

View the winning entries in HVO's poster contest for Hawai‘i Island fourth-grade students. Awards will be presented to the winners at 10 a.m.

Learn how and why earthquakes occur in Hawai‘i and how to prepare your home for the next "big one."

Parking is available at nearby Kīlauea Military Camp. A free shuttle will run between the camp and HVO.

Since 1912, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has led efforts not only to understand the workings of Hawai‘i's volcanoes but also to advance volcano science worldwide. Kīlauea has erupted 48 times on HVO's watch, with an ongoing summit eruption since 2008. Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, has erupted 12 times in that period, most recently in 1984, when lava flowed to within 4 miles of Hilo. HVO scientists monitor this seismic and volcanic activity and provide emergency managers with timely and effective warnings to help reduce the risk of volcanic hazards.

HVO thanks Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Kīlauea Military Camp, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, Volcano Art Center, the USGS Ecosystems Kīlauea Field Station, and the UH-Hilo Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes for their participation in HVO’s centennial event.

For more information about HVO, the open house, and other Centennial and Volcano Awareness Month events, please visit the HVO website at 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

USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels

Subscribe to our news releases via RSS, or Twitter

Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication.