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USGS Volcano Observatories in 2020: Past 10 Years; The Future

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Talk by Tina Neal–USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory geologist and former USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge. Talk originally presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2020.

Many 2010 decadal forecasts for USGS volcanology were correct, including increased application of social science into observatory operations; improved interagency coordination; expanded monitoring tools and data sharing. Progress often occurred in conjunction with significant eruptions (e.g., Bogoslof 2017, Kīlauea 2018). Beyond event-related breakthroughs, we expect that sustained strategic planning and investment – much already underway – will drive the next decade of progress in observatory science and operations. The 2017 National Academy of Sciences ERUPT report identified critical science questions, priorities for research, and new ways for the entire community to collaborate. For USGS, 2019 Congressional authorization of the National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS) set in formal motion a more integrated USGS volcanology program to improve observatory interoperability, expand 24/7 operations, and broaden opportunities for data collection, dissemination, and targeted research by the larger community. The NSF Community Network for Volcanic Eruption Response (CONVERSE) initiative is catalyzing USGS-academic partnerships to maximize science during event response. An international Volcano Observatory Best Practices effort is developing standards and protocols. Several US funding initiatives are supporting modernization of observatory programs and infrastructure. While volcano-specific expertise will remain critical, by 2030, USGS volcano observatories will be increasingly seamless. Staff will work virtually on common platforms to visualize and interpret data. Nodal seismic arrays, inexpensive microsensors, new satellites, and unoccupied aerial systems will increase the flexibility and reach of monitoring, research, and response. Propelled by computer and data science, reliable smart alarms to detect precursory signals will be common. Field, laboratory, and model-derived understanding of volcanic systems will inform routine use and continued development of forecasting frameworks and dynamic hazard assessments. These collective developments will improve delivery of actionable information to decision makers and those at risk via communication methodologies that keep pace with the rapid evolution in how information is best shared.




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