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Community preparedness for lava flows from Mauna Loa and Hualālai volcanoes, Kona, Hawai'i

January 1, 2004

Lava flows from Mauna Loa and Hualālai volcanoes are a major volcanic hazard that could impact the western portion of the island of Hawai'i (e.g., Kona). The most recent eruptions of these two volcanoes to affect Kona occurred in A.D. 1950 and ca. 1800, respectively. In contrast, in eastern Hawai'i, eruptions of neighboring Kilauea volcano have occurred frequently since 1955, and therefore have been the focus for hazard mitigation. Official preparedness and response measures are therefore modeled on typical eruptions of Kilauea. The combinations of short-lived precursory activity (e.g., volcanic tremor) at Mauna Loa, the potential for fast-moving lava flows, and the proximity of Kona communities to potential vents represent significant emergency management concerns in Kona. Less is known about past eruptions of Hualālai, but similar concerns exist. Future lava flows present an increased threat to personal safety because of the short times that may be available for responding. Mitigation must address not only the specific characteristics of volcanic hazards in Kona, but also the manner in which the hazards relate to the communities likely to be affected. This paper describes the first steps in developing effective mitigation plans: measuring the current state of people's knowledge of eruption parameters and the implications for their safety. We present results of a questionnaire survey administered to 462 high school students and adults in Kona. The rationale for this study was the long lapsed time since the last Kona eruption, and the high population growth and expansion of infrastructure over this time interval. Anticipated future growth in social and economic infrastructure in this area provides additional justification for this work. The residents of Kona have received little or no specific information about how to react to future volcanic eruptions or warnings, and short-term preparedness levels are low. Respondents appear uncertain about how to respond to threatening lava flows and overestimate the minimum time available to react, suggesting that personal risk levels are unnecessarily high. A successful volcanic warning plan in Kona must be tailored to meet the unique situation there. Springer-Verlag 2004.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title Community preparedness for lava flows from Mauna Loa and Hualālai volcanoes, Kona, Hawai'i
DOI 10.1007/s00445-004-0338-x
Authors Chris E. Gregg, Bruce F. Houghton, Douglas Paton, Donald A. Swanson, David M. Johnston
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of Volcanology
Series Number
Index ID 70026919
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Hazards Program

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