HVO Book Describes 100 Years of Volcano Observation

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Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has released a new book, titled “Characteristics of Hawaiian Volcanoes,” that summarizes 100 years of observing Hawaiian volcanoes.

The book describes the current scientific understanding of Hawaiian volcanoes, building upon work done throughout the USGS HVO establishment in 1912. Throughout the book, critical research and monitoring that continues to currently be used is highlighted, including the scientific state of knowledge of the mechanism, processes, and hazards of Hawaiian volcanoes.

HVO officials say that the “seminal work and current scientific awareness summarized in the book ultimately contribute to safer and more resilient communities near active volcanoes, whether on Hawai’i or an ocean away.”

Thomas A. Jaggar Jr., HVO’s founder and a pioneer in the study of Hawaiian volcanoes, paved the way for research included in the book.


“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,” said USGS Director Suzette Kimball in the volume’s foreword.

The book includes ten chapters, each of which synthesize the lessons learned about specific aspects of volcanism in Hawai’i. Much of the information evolved from the continuous observation of eruptive activity, like what is currently happening with Kilauea Volcano, as well as systematic research into the volcanic and earthquake processes that has been investigated by HVO in its more than 100 years.

USGS HVO celebrated the centennial of its founding in 2012. Since its founding over 100 years ago, HVO has been responsible for numerous innovations and scientific insights into natural hazards and Earth processes. Some examples of such innovations include the development of modern seismic networks, as well as the first forecast of tsunami arrival times from distinct earthquakes. In addition to serving as a leader of geological innovation, HVO has served as a training ground for volcanologists from all over the world.


“These contributions update the foundation of understanding for Hawaiian volcanism, and serve as a springboard for researchers by providing ideas and stimuli for new avenues of scientific investigation,” USGS HVO geologist and lead editor Michael Poland said.

Hawai’i has long been viewed as a perfect natural laboratory for volcanology. The chapters in the book take a look as detailed aspects of Hawaiian volcanism. The volume touches on everything from the evolution of the volcanoes to the dynamics of explosive eruptions.

The book is currently available for free online and will soon be made into print copies.


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