Categorized | Sci-Tech

Volcano Watch: Resolve to increase awareness in the New Year

(Volcano Watch is a weekly article written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.)

Stop smoking. Exercise more. Lose weight. These pledges to improve physical well-being rank high on lists of popular New Year’s resolutions. But there’s another important resolution — one that’s vital to mental well-being — to also consider: learn something new.

In January 2011, Hawaii Island residents and visitors will have many opportunities to do just that — learn something new — during the second annual “Volcano Awareness Month.”

During the month, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), in cooperation with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii County Civil Defense, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo, will promote the importance of understanding and respecting the volcanoes on which we live through a variety of activities.

The learning opportunities include evening talks, guided hikes, a teacher’s workshop, and other informative programs about Hawaiian volcanoes. To reach a wide audience, they will be offered on weekends, as well as on week days, with events in both East and West Hawaii.

A schedule and full descriptions, including times and locations, of all Volcano Awareness Month activities are posted on HVO’s Web site ( You can also call (808) 967-8844 for more information. For now, here’s an overview of what’s happening in January.

HVO scientists will present “After Dark in the Park” programs in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Jan. 11, Jan. 18, and Jan. 25. These Tuesday evening talks will include an update on Kilauea Volcano’s summit eruption, an update on Kilauea’s east rift zone eruption, and the fascinating story of Frank Perrett, a volcanologist who, in 1911, set the stage for HVO’s work today.

A series of Friday evening talks will be held at the University of Hawaii at Hilo on Jan. 7, Jan. 14, Jan. 21, and Jan. 28, with speakers from HVO, Hawaii County Civil Defense, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and UH-Hilo.

Their presentations will address a variety of interesting topics: Kilauea’s deadly 1790 eruption; how Federal, State, and County agencies work together to watch out for you during a volcanic eruption; how HVO monitors active volcanoes; and the relationship of volcanoes to early Hawaiian stone tools.

A talk about the status of Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on Earth, will be presented on both sides of Hawaii Island by an HVO geologist. On Wednesday, Jan. 19, the talk will be held at the amphitheater in Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Then, on Monday evening, Jan. 31, it will be presented in Lyman Museum in Hilo.

On Thursday, Jan. 27, two HVO scientists will provide timely information about Kilauea Volcano’s gas emissions and vog (volcanic air pollution), an ongoing issue that affects downwind areas throughout the state, particularly during winter months. This evening presentation will be held in the Konawaena High School cafeteria.

In addition to the talks listed above, HVO geologists will lead two guided hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The first, a three-mile round trip hike to Mauna Ulu on Saturday, Jan. 8, will focus on the volcanic landscape formed during Kilauea’s 1969–1974 east rift zone eruption.

Then, on Saturday, Jan. 22, a one-mile round trip walk along Devastation Trail, an area severely impacted by the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption, will be co-led with a Park botanist.

Park rangers will also guide weekly hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park throughout the month. These hikes will take you through Kilauea Iki (Sundays), to Mauna Ulu (Mondays), into Thurston Lava Tube (Wednesdays), around the Puuloa petroglyph field (Thursdays), and down to the floor of Kilauea’s caldera (Saturdays).

On Fridays, a Park interpreter will present a living history program set in 1912. During it, you will meet “Thomas A. Jaggar,” founder of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, HVO’s education specialist will conduct “Learning about Volcanic Activity,” a half-day workshop just for teachers. This fun and fast-paced workshop will feature resources and activities to enhance classroom instruction in grades 4–8.

As you can see from this overview, Volcano Awareness Month will offer a variety of ways to learn more about the volcanoes on which we live, work, and play. So, as you ring in the New Year, resolve to increase your volcano awareness by participating in one or more of the activities on tap in January.

One Response to “Volcano Watch: Resolve to increase awareness in the New Year”

  1. dick cohen says:

    How about building a barrier above Hilo to divert the next lava flow.
    Wouldn’t that be more important than talking about Vulcanology ?


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