Volcano Awareness Month 2021 Program

Release Date:

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is announcing a revised Volcano Awareness Month schedule of recorded programs.  Programs, which are typically offered throughout the month of January, were temporarily postponed due to the eruption that began in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea’s summit within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on December 20, 2020. 

Volcano Awareness Month was established in 2010 through a County of Hawai‘i proclamation to encourage “knowledge and awareness of Hawaiian volcanoes and the proper safety measures to follow beforeduring, and after a volcanic eruption.” 

January 2021 is the Island of Hawaiʻi’s 12th annual “Volcano Awareness Month.” The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) spearheads this effort, giving residents an opportunity to learn more about Hawaiian volcanoes.  Unlike previous years which featured in-person presentations and field trips by HVO staff and cooperators—County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park—activities this year will be “virtual” due to the pandemic. 

The Volcano Awareness Month 2021 calendar of recorded programs, which range from 10-60 minutes in duration, can be found at the link below. Individual programs are also listed below. 

Programs are free and will be posted on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Website (usgs.gov/hvo). Check the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Website (usgs.gov/hvo) “News” section for Volcano Awareness Month 2021 presentations. Volcano Awareness Month 2021 presentations will also be available on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory multimedia page (usgs.gov/observatories/hawaiian-volcano-observatory/multimedia) and the USGS Youtube Channel “Volcanoes” Playlist (youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIxlFowAfHBDo3H7ex9rbB-YIVHyz4ooa). Check the Kīlauea current eruption website for more information and updates on the ongoing eruption in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea’s summit.

Questions? Email askHVO@usgs.gov.


Tuesday, January 26: Conference Presentations

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), an organization of Earth and space scientists, hosts an annual fall meeting for members to present their work. This year, members pre-recorded their presentations for the virtual meeting. HVO has shared three relevant presentations (click the presentation titles below to view the talks). Former USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal presented "USGS volcano observatories in 2020: Review of the past 10 years and a look to the future.” USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory geologist Hannah Dietterich presented “Lava flow forecasting aided by remote sensing during the 2018 Kīlauea lower East Rift Zone eruption.” And, USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge (former HVO geophysicist) Michael Poland presented “The largest gravity changes ever recorded: Continuous gravity monitoring of the onset of Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption.” 

Video Transcript

USGS volcano observatories in 2020: Review of the past 10 years and a look to the future. Talk by Tina Neal–USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory geologist and former USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge. Talk originally presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2020.

Video Transcript

Lava flow forecasting aided by remote sensing during the 2018 Kīlauea lower East Rift Zone eruption. Talk by Hannah Dietterich–Alaska Volcano Observatory geologist. Talk originally presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2020.

Video Transcript

The largest gravity changes ever recorded: Continuous gravity monitoring of the onset of Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption. Talk by Mike Poland–USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge and former USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist.


Wednesday, January 27: What’s happening at Kīlauea Volcano?

A wider view of the western fissure, and western end of the lava lake.

USGS photo: Kīlauea's summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u on 01-12-2021. (Public domain.)

On December 20, 2020, an eruption began in Halema‘uma‘u at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit, ending a two-year eruptive pause. The water lake that appeared at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u in late July 2019, which had grown to be over 50 meters (55 yards) deep and more than 10 acres in surface area, quickly vaporized and was replaced by a growing lava lake. The eruption began as three fissure vents in Halema‘uma‘u and has remained dynamic. In this talk, USGS HVO scientists who monitor the eruption with permission from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will share their insights and observations. Were there eruption precursors? What does the new eruption mean for hazards at Kīlauea’s summit? How is the lava lake monitored and what is known about it? Join USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists David PhillipsMatt Patrick, Tricia Nadeau, Ingrid Johanson, and Peter Dotray as they answer these questions and more.


image related to volcanoes. See description

Aerial view of Mauna Loa's summit caldera, Moku‘āweoweo, captured by Civil Air Patrol on Sunday, October 20, 2019. (Public domain.)



Thursday, January 28 When will Mauna Loa erupt next?

Because Mauna Loa has been quiet for almost 30 years, residents may not be aware that Mauna Loa is an active volcano. When Mauna Loa erupts, it is capable of disrupting lives and commerce throughout the Island of Hawai‘i. What can we learn from Mauna Loa’s past eruptions? What are the signs we need to look for in the future that might portend the next eruption of the world’s largest active volcano? Join USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Frank Trusdell, who has studied Mauna Loa for two decades, as he presents his talk about Earth’s largest volcano. 









Friday, January 29: A virtual walk through Kīlauea Volcano’s summit history


Color photograph of road and crater

Aerial view of Keanakāko‘i Crater and Crater Rim Drive in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. (Public domain.)

Join USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist emeritus Don Swanson on a virtual walk, during which you learn about the past 500 years of Kīlauea Volcano’s history as revealed by rocks, craters, and cracks. This virtual walk will be released in three parts, covering different sections of the Keanakākoʻi Crater trail. Along the walk, Don points out and explains some of the features that formed during the 2018 summit collapse events, as well as the best publicly accessible display of explosive deposits erupted from Kīlauea around 230–370 years ago, one of which probably relates to an important oral tradition. Don also shows two contrasting vents for the July 1974 eruption, highlights the thick deposit of pumice and scoria erupted in 1959, and ponders the origin of Keanakākoʻi Crater. You can visit the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park website (https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/keanakakoi.htm) to learn about walking the 2-mile round-trip Keanakākoʻi Crater trail, which begins at the Devastation Trail parking lot on Crater Rim Drive in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (Map: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/upload/HAVO-Unigrid-Brochure-2019.jpg).


Plumbing the depths of Kīlauea Volcano - POSTPONED

A helicopter overflight on Tuesday provided HVO scientists with high-angle views of the ongoing eruption in Halema‘uma‘u.

Aerial view of the lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea on January 12, 2021. (Public domain.)

One of the key goals of volcanology is to monitor the movement of molten rock (magma) beneath the Earth’s surface.  Most volcanoes have their main storage area for magma a mile or two beneath the volcano in the Earth’s crust.  Kīlauea Volcano is very different and stores magma within the volcano itself, about a mile beneath its summit.  This is only possible because Kīlauea is so enormous it can store a large volume of magma.  In addition, the amount of magma moving through the system is so high that it doesn’t stay within the volcano long enough to crystallize.  To the average person, and quite frankly often to volcanologists as well, the pattern of volcanic vent locations at Kīlauea's summit or along its rift zones looks a lot like the game “Whack-a-mole,” where the eruptions seem to randomly appear.  However, there are patterns and our concept of what Kīlauea’s magma plumbing system looks like has changed significantly over time. After large eruptions like the 2018 eruption in Puna, Kīlauea’s plumbing appears to undergo significant re-organization.  While the recent reappearance of lava at Kīlauea’s summit happened quickly, summit activity was not unexpected.  ​Join geologist Ken Hon as he discusses what scientists are looking for now to better understand what Kilauea may do in the future.