Observatory, UH to host national volcano workshop

This week the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is cooperating with the University of Hawai`i to conduct a workshop in volcanology for graduate students from several U.S. universities. The workshop is being held in conjunction with the Cities on Volcanoes 3 meeting, in Hilo July 14-18. The COV3 meeting will be described in next week’s Volcano Watch.

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to fund the 6-day workshop based in Volcano village. Competition for the 18 workshop slots was keen. Those selected, all Americans (by NSF rule), come from universities scattered across the mainland, from Fairbanks to Pittsburgh, as well as from UH itself.

The workshop provides an unusual opportunity to bring together potential future leaders in the field at an early stage of their careers. They will be placed in a field environment previously experienced by only a few of them. They will meet and work with each other and with senior volcanologists in one of the world’s most famous, and best, volcanic settings.

The workshop has three themes, each drawing upon field examples from Kilauea or Mauna Loa.

1. Explosive volcanism. The 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption and its deposits will exemplify lava fountaining. The deposits of the A.D. 1500-1790 eruptions from Kilauea’s caldera will show students the characteristics of steam-driven explosions. This contrast between “dry” and “wet” explosive activity is an important concept for students to learn-as well as a continuing source of study for veteran volcanologists. It’s not always easy to tell the two types apart.

2. Effusive or lava-flow eruption. This is what Hawaiian volcanoes are most famous for. There can be no better example than the lava flows produced by the ongoing Pu`u `O`o-Kupaianaha eruption, and students will see them in action. The current activity is no longer as handy to walk to as it was a few weeks ago, however, so the students will put some wear on their boots. In addition, they will be critically observing flows from the 1969-1974 Mauna Ulu eruption and lava tubes in two older flows.

3. Risk, vulnerability, and preparedness. These issues are where “the rubber meets the road” so far as the public is concerned. Several areas on the island will be visited and discussed, guided in part by questionnaires recently distributed to selected island groups by a UH graduate student.

This workshop is only one of a number of examples of how UH and HVO cooperate to train students of volcanology, as well as professional volcanologists from developing nations. The Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UHH, in partnership with HVO, is currently conducting its annual training course for scientists from developing nations in techniques of volcanic hazards monitoring and response. The course this year was timed so that students could attend the COV3 meeting during their last week in Hilo.

Throughout each academic year, HVO scientists interact with UH-Manoa and UH-Hilo in many ways, participating in student field trips, giving classroom lectures, guiding individual students on research projects, and serving on graduate-student thesis committees. There is a sense that “we’re all in this together,” and the students benefit from hearing different opinions and learning different techniques from “academic” and “governmental” scientists. All of this is in addition to the professional cooperation among many of the scientists themselves.

There is no free lunch, of course, and the training that HVO does comes at a cost-time. HVO is not funded as an educational institution but instead as a part of the federal government. Its staff has a pretty full schedule taken up with monitoring and trying to understand Hawai`i’s volcanoes. But we view the cost as an investment in the future. We are proud to be taking part in the educational process through our cooperation and partnership with the University of Hawai`i.

Activity Update

Eruptive activity at the Pu`u `O`o vent of Kilauea Volcano continued unabated during the past week. Discontinuous surface flows are spread across Pulama pali from top to bottom, and a strong glow comes from breakouts above the pali. Scattered surface breakouts also occur from the top of Paliuli to within 100 m (100 yd) of the Highcastle sea cliff. The ocean entry from the Highcastle delta is small and weak.

The public is reminded that the ocean entry areas are extremely hazardous, with explosions accompanying sudden collapses of the new land. The steam clouds are highly acidic and laced with glass particles. The National Park Service has put warning signs in critical places. Do not venture beyond these signs and onto the lava deltas and benches.

No earthquakes were reported felt on the island during the past week.

Mauna Loa is not erupting. The summit region continues to inflate slowly. Seismic activity remains low, with only three earthquakes located in the summit area during the last seven days.

This article was written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and is republished by HawaiiNews.com with permission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *