Founded in 1912 at the edge of the caldera of Kīlauea Volcano, HVO was the vision of Thomas A. Jaggar, Jr., a geologist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose studies of natural disasters around the world had convinced him that systematic, continuous observations of seismic and volcanic activity were needed to better understand—and potentially predict—earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Jaggar summarized the aim of HVO by stating that “the work should be humanitarian” and have the goals of developing “prediction and methods of protecting life and property on the basis of sound scientific achievement.” These goals align well with those of the USGS, whose mission is to serve the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage natural resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.
“Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes” establishes a benchmark for the current understanding of volcanism in Hawai‘i, and the articles herein build upon the elegant and pioneering work of Jaggar and many other USGS and academic scientists. Each chapter synthesizes the lessons learned about a specific aspect 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 first 100 years. 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.