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March 9, 2023

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will host an informal open house on March 15th about the proposed new building in Hilo and draft Environmental Assessment. The event will be hosted from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) offices in the Iron Works building located at 1266 Kamehameha Avenue-Suite C in Hilo. 

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates.


image related to volcanoes. See description
Aerial photo showing the location of the building that formerly housed the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo taken on July 13, 2018, during the Kīlauea summit collapse sequence.
​​ USGS photo.
Color photograph of buildings and eruption
Aerial photo showing the location of the building that formerly housed the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo taken on July 19, 2022, after eruptions had partially filled in the collapsed area. USGS photo.

Members of the public are invited to come learn about this project and the proposed new building. 

Many locals and visitors remember visiting Jaggar Museum on the rim of Kīlauea caldera (Kaluapele) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Prior to 2018, HVO operated from buildings next to the museum. Visitors could sometimes see HVO scientists doing their work to monitor volcanoes and earthquakes in order to reduce their impacts on communities in Hawai’i. 

The HVO buildings in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park were damaged beyond repair in 2018 as Kīlauea summit partially collapsed during the lower East Rift Zone eruption. HVO has moved to multiple temporary homes since then. 

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park houses another USGS group—the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center (PIERC). PIERC focuses on the study of biological resources in Hawai‘i and other locations in the Pacific, promoting management and conservation. 

HVO and PIERC have different but related missions. While HVO falls under the Natural Hazards Mission Area of the USGS, PIERC is in the Ecosystems Mission Area. Under the umbrella of USGS, both groups strive to better understand the complex natural world in the context of the policy and hazards posed. Geologists at HVO study the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands and biologists at PIERC study the ecosystems on them. 

A new building for both HVO and PIERC has been proposed to be located on 6.8 acres of State-owned land on Nowelo Street in Hilo. The proposed location is near the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo (UHH) campus and other science-oriented organizations, such as the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.  This will allow for more interactive work between scientists and will more opportunities for UHH faculty and students to collaborate with both HVO and PIERC. 

Because the project involves the use of State of Hawai‘i lands, an Environmental Assessment and Anticipated Finding of No Significant Impacts has been prepared for the project in accordance with Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 343 and Chapter 11-200.1 Hawai‘i Administrative Rules. Environmental Assessments evaluate the potential impacts of a project to the surrounding environment.  

The Environmental Assessment also meets the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Information on how to review the draft environmental assessment for the new USGS building, and provide feedback, is available here:  

During the open house on March 15, we’ll have informative displays and USGS Project Team members will be present to answer your questions about the project. USGS scientists from both HVO and PIERC will also be present to answer questions about these organizations and the work they do. 

Island of Hawai‘i residents live in a dynamic environment, with active volcanoes and a changing climate impacting our diverse ecosystems. The new USGS facility in Hilo will provide a cutting-edge space for HVO and PIERC scientists to do their work on these fundamental aspects of Hawaii nei. The USGS looks forward to hosting the open house on March 15 and we appreciate feedback from the community. Questions about the draft environmental assessment can be sent to


Volcano Activity Updates


Kīlauea summit eruption has paused. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is at WATCH. Kīlauea updates are issued daily.

Kīlauea volcano's summit eruption in Halemaʻumaʻu crater within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has paused and active lava is only intermittently visible on the surface. Summit tilt has shown several deflation-inflation events over the past week. Summit earthquake activity remains low and eruptive tremor (a signal associated with fluid movement) is present at decreased levels. A sulfur dioxide emission rate of 250 tonnes per day was measured on February 28. For Kīlauea monitoring data, see

Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at ADVISORY. Mauna Loa updates are issued weekly on Thursdays.

Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Seismicity remains low. Deformation rates show inflation somewhat above background levels, but this is not uncommon following eruptions. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates are at background levels. For Mauna Loa monitoring data, see:

There were three earthquakes with 3 or more felt reports in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week: a M3.6 earthquake 3 km (1 mi) SSW of Pāhala at 34 km (21 mi) depth on March 8 at 1:01 p.m. HST, a M3.2 earthquake 0 km (0 mi) SSW of Volcano at 27 km (17 mi) depth on March 3 at 8:35 p.m. HST, and a M3.1 earthquake 9 km (5 mi) SSE of Volcano at 29 km (18 mi) depth on March 3 at 3:22 a.m. HST.

HVO continues to closely monitor the ongoing eruption at Kīlauea, and Mauna Loa.   

Please visit HVO’s website for past Volcano Watch articles, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa updates, volcano photos, maps, recent earthquake info, and more. Email questions to   

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates.

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