Volcano Watch — Don Swanson takes over as Scientist-in-Charge

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Last week Donald ("Don") Swanson was sworn in as the new Scientist-In-Charge of the US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Don replaces Margaret Mangan, who served in an acting capacity for 10 months after the retirement of HVO's outgoing chief, David Clague.

Last week Donald ("Don") Swanson was sworn in as the new Scientist-In-Charge of the US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Don replaces Margaret Mangan, who served in an acting capacity for 10 months after the retirement of HVO's outgoing chief, David Clague. Don has been with the USGS for over 31 years and brings to Hawaii the experience and stature of one of the world's leading volcanologists. He has a long-standing connection to HVO, a place that for him holds "the most fascinating geology and wonderful staff" of any USGS installation.

Don was the Staff Geologist at HVO in 1968-71, during Kīlauea's Mauna Ulu eruption. In 1971 he was transferred to the USGS center in California where he began unraveling the mysteries of a huge lava field that erupted several million years ago, and inundated most of the State of Washington and parts of Oregon and Idaho.

From 1980-86 he was the lead geologist for the Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) and played a critical role during the 1980 cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Saint Helens. In 1986 Don became CVO's Scientist-In-Charge. He developed an international reputation that brought invitations from Japan and Italy to conduct Civil Defense workshops on eruption prediction and volcanic hazards.

In 1990, the USGS moved Don to the University of Washington, where he became an Affiliate Professor in the Dept. of Geological Sciences and was appointed Associate Director of the university's newly established Volcano Systems Center. While in Seattle, Don and his collaborator, Dick Fiske of the Smithsonian Institution, made yearly sojourns to the Big Island to study Kīlauea's Koae and Hilina fault systems in order to assess earthquakefrequency prior to recorded accounts.

What is Don's vision for HVO's future? Well, when queried he humbly responds "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" In Don's perspective, it is paramount that HVO maintains its strong ties to the community and continues to be a world leader in volcano science and technology.

Dr. Mangan will remain at HVO and resume her research activities after a short tour-of-duty at Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat, British West Indies with the USGS volcano crisis response team (see Volcano Watch, Hawaii Tribune Herald December 8, 1996).

Volcano Activity Update

The eruption of Kīlauea Volcano continues. There were two moderately-sized surface flows on Pulama Pali in Hawaii National Park last week. Both flows traveled down the existing lava field and only a few trees were charred. On January 9, a small collapse at the active vent, Pu`u `O`o cinder cone, sent a short-lived puff of red dust a few hundred feet in the air, but had no discernible effect on the eruption. There were no felt earthquakes on the Island last week.