Volcano Watch — University of Hawai‘i students complete summer internships at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Release Date:

This week, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) bids aloha to two interns, Pua Pali and Greg Javar, who gained first-hand experience monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes by working with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists this summer.

University of Hawai‘i students complete summer internships at the H...

Greg Javar snaps a "selfie" while helping USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick (right) set up a thermal camera to record lava lake activity within the summit vent of Kīlauea Volcano. Javar and fellow UH-Mānoa student Pua Pali (not shown) were selected to intern at HVO this summer through the Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program.

(Public domain.)

These interns, both University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa students, were funded by USGS through the Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program (NHSEMP), which provides opportunities for students to excel in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). NHSEMP (http://nhsemp.eng.hawaii.edu/) began as a joint initiative between UH-Mānoa's College of Engineering and KamakakuKAHAKOokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies in 2001. It has since become a national model for science and engineering education by bridging educational institutions, government agencies, and private industry.

Interestingly, the NHSEMP-HVO connection was realized by way of Alaska. The USGS Alaska Region has interacted with students through the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), which strives to increase the number of Indigenous Americans in STEM career paths, for the past decade. Three years ago, the partnership was formalized with an official cooperative agreement between the USGS and ANSEP (http://www.ansep.net/).

Based on the success with ANSEP, the USGS Alaska Regional Director wanted to extend intern opportunities to Hawaii in 2014. Fortunately, an affiliation between UH-Mānoa and ANSEP already existed. UH-Mānoa was one of ANSEP's first "Indigenous Alliance Universities," and NHSEMP has been especially successful in graduating and placing Native Hawaiian students in STEM-related career paths at State and Federal agencies.

Through NHSEMP, Pali and Javar were selected to work with HVO scientists. Two other UH-Mānoa students were selected to intern with the USGS Pacific Islands Water Science Center on O‘ahu.

When Pali learned that NHSEMP was looking for a "volcano person" for a summer internship, she jumped at the opportunity. "I had no clue what would be in store for me," she said, "but it did not matter, because the chance to work at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory was something I couldn't pass up."

Both Pali and Javar have ties to the Island of Hawai‘i. Pali graduated from Konawaena High School before moving to O‘ahu, where she is now a UH-Mānoa senior majoring in geology and geophysics. She is also the mother of three children. For Pali, coming to HVO was like coming home. "Living here this summer and being so close to Pele, to nature, and all that this place has to offer have prepared me for my upcoming semester, which will be my most intense yet!"

Javar, a Ka‘ū High School graduate, is now a sophomore at UH-Mānoa, where he is pursuing a degree in civil engineering. This fall, he will continue his studies in Anchorage, Alaska, as part of an exchange program between the University of Hawai‘i and the University of Alaska. During his HVO internship, Javar served as a role model for students in his home town by assisting with an outreach program at Pāhala Public Library about the work of volcano scientists.

While at HVO, Pali and Javar were introduced to the scientific disciplines and tasks that are required to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes and earthquakes. They collected rock and ash samples on Kīlauea, mapped lava flows on Mauna Loa, assisted with the installation of monitoring instruments, gathered GPS data on Mauna Kea, compiled a map for Hualālai using GIS, and more—all the while gaining skills and knowledge through one-on-one interactions with HVO scientists.

Both interns admitted that "being in the field is definitely more interesting and engaging than sitting in front of a computer." But they also understood that computer work is a necessary part of the job at HVO and accomplished their office assignments with aplomb.

Reflecting on his HVO experiences, Javar said, "I learned things that I would never have learned anywhere else. Working at HVO also changed the way I view the world, and that will help me become a better engineer."

HVO appreciates the opportunity to mentor future scientists and engineers through the Native Hawaiian Science and Engineering Mentorship Program. We also value Pali and Javar's contributions to HVO's work during their summer internships and wish them all the best as they complete their degrees and pursue STEM careers. Mahalo and a hui hou! Thank you! We hope to see you again!


Volcano Activity Update

The summit lava lake within Halema‘uma‘u Crater produced nighttime glow that was visible via HVO's webcam over the past week. The lava lake level fluctuated slightly but was roughly 40 m (130 ft) below the rim of the Overlook crater.

On the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano, the June 27 flow from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō continued to advance toward the northeast and had reached 8.7 km (5.4 miles) from the vent by August 13. Within the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater, several small lava ponds were active on the crater floor.

Three earthquakes were reported felt during the past week on the Island of Hawai‘i. On Thursday, August 7, 2014, at 6:24 a.m., HST, a magnitude-4.5 earthquake occurred 6 km (4 mi) northeast of Kawaihae at a depth of 17 km (10 mi). On Monday, August 11, at 9:47 p.m., a magnitude-3.6 earthquake occurred 1 km (.5 mi) northwest of ‘‘Ō‘ōKINAoKAHAKOkala at a depth of 40 km (25 mi). On Tuesday, August 12, at 8:28 p.m., a magnitude-3.5 earthquake occurred 23 km (14 mi) northeast of Kukuihaele at a depth of 30 km (19 mi).