Volcano Watch — The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory thanks the unsung champions of maintenance

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Most successful organizations are supported by a cadre of dedicated and skilled staff who work largely "behind the scenes" to maintain the field equipment, vehicles, and buildings that support its core operations. This includes maintaining mechanical and electrical systems, communication networks, computer technology, and daily custodial needs.

As a result, everyone else on staff can pursue their work with little concern as to whether the buildings are safe and clean, field stations are working as designed, back-up power systems are fully operational, roofs and windows are leak-free, and air conditioners that cool critical systems are working properly.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is no different.

In 2012 our technical support staff completed the most aggressive improvement and expansion of the volcano monitoring networks in the history of HVO. Since 2009, more than 100 existing monitoring stations were upgraded with new instruments, radios, and power systems, and dozens of new stations were installed.

This leap in monitoring capability was made possible by the 2009 American Restoration and Recovery Act (ARRA), which provided $3.1 million for HVO to purchase state-of-the-art instruments and radio systems and to hire several temporary employees to help install them.

These monitoring improvements were described by Kevan Kamibayashi, HVO's lead technician, in an "After Dark in the Park" program in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during Volcano Awareness Month in January 2013. His talk can be viewed online at http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/after-dark-2013.htm.

Also critical to the success of HVO are the employees of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park who facilitate our volcano science and research within the Park by maintaining the buildings and infrastructure that we depend on to do our work.

All of HVO's ARRA-funded monitoring stations required updated or new permits to ensure minimal or no harmful effects to the natural and cultural resources in the National Park. The "footprints" of many stations were reduced with smaller power requirements, instrument enclosures, and cabling needs. Prompt attention to our permit applications by Park employees meant that we were able to meet the deadlines required by ARRA.

When, in 1986, HVO was provided a new office and laboratory building and remodeled workshop, our maintenance requirements significantly increased as the facility more than doubled in size and its new mechanical systems required regular service. Much of this work was ably performed by the skilled craftsmen/women from the National Park's maintenance team.

Among HVO's most valued maintenance "champions" is the late John McClelland. As the Park's electrician, John maintained HVO's mechanical and electrical systems for more than a decade. He was essentially on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to respond to emergency facility issues at HVO and in the Park, including all power failures and fire alarm alerts, to ensure that all systems came back online properly and were in good working order.

John had an inspiring "can-do" attitude with every challenge he faced at HVO. His broad experience in construction meant he was a "jack of all trades" and could efficiently solve almost every problem that arose. He also provided valuable advice on a wide range of facility issues, especially when significant upgrades were needed. His work ethic was second to none, and his dedication to support HVO with a confident smile was widely appreciated by all.

Sadly, John passed away last month, but his friendship, laughter, and generous spirit will be fondly remembered by the entire HVO staff.

Mahalo to all the unsung champions, who, over the years, have maintained HVO's multitude of instruments, equipment, buildings, and infrastructure! You have made all the difference for the HVO staff!


Volcano Activity Update

A lava lake within the Halema‘uma‘u Overlook vent produced nighttime glow that was visible from the Jaggar Museum overlook and via HVO's Webcam during the past week. The lake level fluctuated slightly in response to summit DI events but was generally about 30 m (100 ft) below the floor of Halema‘uma‘u.

On Kīlauea's east rift zone, surface lava flows remain active about a kilometer (0.6 miles) out from the base of the pali, as well as near the coast. Weak ocean entries scattered along the sea cliff remain active on both sides of the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park boundary. At Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, lava erupting from a complex of spatter cones on the northeast side of the crater floor—the former site of a small lava lake—travels down the northeastern flank of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō cone via an incipient lava tube. This lava is feeding a slow-moving pāhoehoe flow spreading at the northern base of the cone. Also, a patch of surface flows was active about 5 km (about 3 km) southeast of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, above the pali.

There was one felt earthquake in the past week on the Island of Hawai‘i. A magnitude-3.1 earthquake occurred at 6:44 p.m., HST, on Sunday, February 5, 2013, and was located 10 km (6 mi) southeast of Ho‘okena at a depth of 28 km (18 mi).