Volcano Watch — New effort forged for volcano studies

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The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has joined forces with the University of Hawai`i to promote the collaborative study of volcanoes with the initiation of a new Hawai`i Center for Volcanology. On Tuesday this new center was officially announced during a press conference held in Honolulu on the university campus.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has joined forces with the University of Hawai`i to promote the collaborative study of volcanoes with the initiation of a new Hawai`i Center for Volcanology. On Tuesday this new center was officially announced during a press conference held in Honolulu on the university campus. The Center is an interdisciplinary research and educational center serving the scientific community, the State of Hawai`i, and the Federal Government. The Center brings together about 65 scientists at the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai`i's Manoa campus, at the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) on the University of Hawai`i's Hilo campus, and at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The purpose fo the Center is to promote the study of all aspects of volcanic systems, including remote sensing and mapping of volcanoes, studies of the chemical and physical properties of magmas and their source rocks in the Earth's mantle, the physical processes of volcanic eruptions, the evolution of volcanoes and their magmatic systems, the monitoring of active volcanoes (a role played dominantly by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory), the interaction of magma and various fluids within and beneath the volcanoes, and the study of earthquakes as they relate to volcanic systems.

SOEST is the home for the NASA Earth Observing System Volcanology Interdisciplinary Science Team, which will use the EOS satellites and other space platforms to monitor and study active volcanoes on Earth. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will be collaborating with University scientists in using the satellites to study active and dormant Hawaiian volcanoes. In addition, SOEST will be the home of the Hawai`i Undersea Geo-Observatory, which will be deployed at the summit of Lo`ihi Seamount, the youngest, and still submarine, Hawaiian volcano. This undersea observatory will include an array of sensors, similar to those that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory uses to study subaerial volcanoes, to detect volcanic, seismic and hydrothermal activity on Lo`ihi. The data from this Observatory will be brought to shore via an undersea fiber-optic cable and then transmitted to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the University. The seismic data, in particular, will be combined with that collected from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory seismic network to improve our ability to locate earthquakes offshore and near the south coast of Hawai`i.

In addition to these direct collaborative efforts, the new Center also combines the laboratory and technical resources of the different institutions and should enhance the timely analysis of geologic samples from the volcanoes. An example of technical exchange is that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will be using technology developed at SOEST to convert an existing electrical datalink to a fiber optic datalink. This change should result in protecting some of our instrumentation from lightning strikes.

The Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes serves as an educational arm of volcano monitoring, as done at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. During the summer they teach small groups of foreign technical personnel how to monitor the active volcanoes in their home countries. These trained people become the teachers themselves when they return home and train their co-workers. The goal of the program is to develop a network of people trained to recognize the early warning signs of an upcoming eruption. In addition to this vital role, CSAV also hosts conferences and forums aimed at educating the public about aspects of living on or near active volcanoes. As an example, they will host a forum on the hazards of lava flows, earthquakes and tsunamis in Hawai‘i at 9:00 a.m. on August 6 in the Campus Center rooms 306/307.

The public is invited to attend and bring their questions about geologic hazards in Hawai`i. Another aspect of the CSAV program is to inform teachers, so that they can then teach their classes about volcanoes. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is an active participant in many of CSAV's educational programs, and CSAV and the Observatory also share equipment and personnel for monitoring the active volcanoes. These collaborative efforts have enhanced the capabilities of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in the past; the new broader collaborative program of the Hawai`i Center for Volcanology should further enhance our capabilities.

Volcano Activity Update

The ongoing eruption of Kīlauea Volcano did not upstage the new Center's press conference with any change in activity. The episode 51 vents have been in continuous eruption since before dawn on June 21. Most flow activity has been directed toward the south. In the past week, the lava has not passed through the perched pond on the growing shield, but has flowed directly from the active vents through tubes. The lava lake inside Pu`u `O`o remains active at a depth of about 165 feet below the rim of the cone. This lava lake produces bright flow at night that can be seen from along Highway 11, or from the lookout atop Pu`u Huluhulu on the Napau Trail in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.