Volcano Watch — Real nerds, real people

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The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is to monitor the volcanoes of Hawai`i, to study the geological processes associated with eruptive and seismic activities, and to inform the public of the potential geologic hazards associated with volcanoes.

The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) is to monitor the volcanoes of Hawai`i, to study the geological processes associated with eruptive and seismic activities, and to inform the public of the potential geologic hazards associated with volcanoes. The individuals who comprise the Observatory Staff contribute, not only in the scientific arena, but also toward their communities.

On the national level members of HVO participate on a committee representing diversity and minority issues in the U.S. Geological Survey. The committee has been instrumental in obtaining support for the Diversity Intern and Minority Participation in Earth Sciences Programs. These programs allow HVO to hire local students to obtain experience in the earth sciences.

Every year HVO recruits students from local and mainland universities. These students work in conjunction with our staff members. The students are exposed to the latest technology, techniques and scientific methodology employed in volcanologic research. The HVO staff members become kumu (mentors) in their specific field of expertise to these students. In this way the staff can give something back to our community.

Although not all of the students continue with careers in the Earth sciences, the knowledge, skills, and work ethic that they acquired at HVO can be applied anywhere. Many of the local students who participated in the summer programs at HVO are leaders and productive members of the community. You may recognize a few of them from the following: a writer of novels based on growing up in Hawaii; the owner of a flower shop, attorneys, fireman, electronic technicians, computer specialists, teachers, businessmen and women, librarians, a doctor, an actor, policeman, farmers, and a Park Superintendent, to name a few.

Locally, several members serve on advisory boards and commissions. Paul Okubo, seismologist, and Don Swanson, scientist-in-charge, serve on the State's Civil Defense Earthquake Advisory Board. This board serves to review the hazards associated with earthquakes and advises the State Civil Defense on mitigative measures to minimize loss to life and property. Paul also serves on a Hazards Mitigation Council.

Frank Trusdell, geologist, serves on the Natural Areas Reserve Commission. The NARS Committee charge is to recommend areas "to preserve in perpetuity specific land and water areas which support communities, as relatively unmodified as possible, of the natural flora and fauna, as well as geological sites of Hawaii."

Some of you may own pets rescued from lava-impacted areas by geologist Christina Heliker, who along with Tamar Elias are members of the Hawaii Island Humane Society. Others may have been pupils of Jim Kauahikaua, geophysicist and Ken Honma, electronic technician. Jim serves as kumu for Na Pua No`eau (a Hawaiian gifted and talented program). Ken is the sensei for an Aikido Club in Mountain View.

Many of the HVO `ohana contribute to community, school and church programs (Marian Kagimoto and Maurice Sako). They may be the coach (Mike Lisowski, Carl Thornber and Paul Okubo) of your kids' soccer or baseball teams. They may be a judge (Jim Kauahikaua) at the Big Island Science Fair and a Scout leader (Arnold Okamura), a participant in the Jaycees (Steven Fuke), a member of your chat group and a magician (Wil Tanigawa), the lady who sold you hand-made crafts at local outlets (Jennifer Nakata), a parent substitute teacher for the day (Pauline Fukunaga), an artist and a poet (Jane Takahashi), tutors (Asta Miklius and Bruce Furukawa), farmers (Alvin Tomori and Irene Tengan), and brewers (Steve Brantley and Frank Trusdell). Dave Sherrod and Jeff Sutton have both been busy educating the public, park personnel and volunteers about East Maui's eruptive history and VOG issues, respectively.

The employees at HVO are not just scientists, technicians, and nerds, but ordinary people who have down-to-earth interests. Beyond our jobs, we are members of the community and contribute to our neighborhood in many ways beyond the scientific capacity in which we are employed.

Volcano Activity Update

During the past week, there was constant effusion of lava from the Pu`u `O`o vent. Lava continued to flow through a network of tubes down to the seacoast where it entered the ocean at Kamokuna. The public is reminded that the ocean entry area is extremely hazardous, with explosions accompanying frequent collapses of the lava delta. The steam cloud is highly acidic and laced with glass particles.

An earthquake at 12:19 p.m. on Monday, July 27 was reported felt by residents of Puna. The magnitude 3.6 earthquake was located 6 km (3.6 mi) offshore (south) of Opihikao at a depth of 11.3 km (6.8 mi).