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Monitoring network changes during the 2018 Kīlauea Volcano eruption

December 9, 2020

In the summer of 2018, Kīlauea Volcano underwent one of its most significant eruptions in the past few hundred years. The volcano’s summit and East Rift Zone magma system partially drained, resulting in a series of occasionally explosive partial caldera collapses, and widespread lava flows in the lower East Rift Zone. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) operates a robust permanent monitoring network of about 250 stations, recording a variety of real‐time data streams: seismic (short‐period, broadband, strong‐motion), infrasound, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), tilt, camera, laser rangefinder, and gas geochemistry. During the eruption, HVO staff quickly established 35 new temporary monitoring stations, to better constrain evolving volcanic hazards. The partial collapses of the caldera threatened to disrupt important telemetry links in the HVO monitoring network, and a major effort was undertaken in the midst of the eruption crisis to reroute radio telemetry and maintain continuity of data flow. In the process, a new data center was established in Hilo, to mitigate a long‐standing potential single point of failure at the HVO facility. Over the course of the eruption from May through August, lava, ashfall, wildfire, and cliff collapse destroyed or disabled 36 stations. Thousands of earthquakes damaged the main HVO facility at Uēkahuna Bluff, causing staff to evacuate the building and relocate observatory operations in the midst of the eruption response, adding more complexity to the response effort. Throughout these events, the HVO team maintained the monitoring network, provided timely information to the public and emergency managers, and collected valuable scientific data to better understand Kīlauea Volcano.