100 Years of Hawaiian Volcano Observations in New Book

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A new book summarizing 100 years of observing Hawaiian volcanoes is now available online, with printed copies to follow soon.

Professional Paper 1801: Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes thumbnail of cover

ISLAND OF HAWAIʻI, Hawaii — A new book summarizing 100 years of observing Hawaiian volcanoes is now available online, with printed copies to follow soon. The U.S. Geological Survey monograph describes the current scientific understanding of Hawaiian volcanoes – built on the work done since the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory was established in 1912 – and highlights the critical research and monitoring still conducted today.

With an eye to the past, the new book, “Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes” highlights the scientific state of knowledge of the mechanisms, processes, and hazards of Hawaiian volcanoes. The seminal work and current scientific awareness summarized in the book ultimately contribute to safer and more resilient communities near active volcanoes, whether on Hawaiʻi or an ocean away.

The work described in the book builds upon the pioneering work of HVO founder, Thomas A. Jaggar, Jr., and the many scientists who followed in his footsteps. Ten chapters synthesize the lessons learned about specific aspects of volcanism in Hawai‘i, based largely on continuous observation of eruptive activity like that occurring now at Kīlauea Volcano and on systematic research into volcanic and earthquake processes during HVO’s more than 100 years of investigation.

“Researchers and students interested in basaltic volcanism should find the volume to be a valuable starting point for future investigations of Hawaiian volcanoes and an important reference for decades to come, as well as an informative and entertaining read,” said USGS Director Suzette Kimball in the volume’s forward.

In 2012, USGS HVO celebrated the centennial of its founding. In the more than 100 years since Jaggar began making systematic observations of Hawaiian volcanism, HVO has been responsible for numerous innovations and scientific insights into natural hazards and Earth processes. For example, the development of modern seismic networks was started, in large part, by the work of the Observatory, and USGS HVO scientists made the first forecasts of tsunami arrival times from distant earthquakes. HVO has also served as a training ground for volcanologists from the United States and around the world.

“These contributions update the foundation of understanding for Hawaiian volcanism, and serve as a springboard for researchers by providing ideas and stimuli for new avenues of scientific investigation,” said USGS HVO geologist and lead editor Michael Poland.

The Hawaiian Islands have long been recognized as an exceptional natural laboratory for volcanology. The chapters that make up this volume treat in detail various aspects of Hawaiian volcanism, from the evolution of the volcanoes that make up the island chain to the dynamics of effusive and explosive eruptions.

 “U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1801, "Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes," edited by Michael Poland, Taeko Jane Takahashi, and Claire Landowski, is available online.