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January is fifth annual Volcano Awareness Month

During the past year, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), like other federal agencies, dealt with the challenges of budget cuts, sequestration, furloughs, and a government shutdown. But through it all, Kilauea kept erupting, and our work monitoring it — as well as Hawaii’s other active volcanoes—continued.

As we approach the beginning of 2014, we look forward to sharing with you what’s been happening with the volcanoes and what we’ve learned from them this past year. We’ll be doing that through a series of talks in January, our fifth annual “Volcano Awareness Month.”

Volcano awareness is always a relevant topic for residents and visitors on the Island of Hawaii, home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes. But 2014 is an especially significant year, because it will mark the 90th anniversary of Kilauea Volcano’s most violent eruption of the 20th century (May 1924) and the 30th anniversary of Mauna Loa’s most recent eruption (March 1984). Accordingly, HVO scientists and volunteers are preparing informative and engaging presentations to promote the importance of understanding the volcanoes on which we live.

The Volcano Awareness Month schedule, including the date, time, location, and brief description of each talk, is posted on HVO’s website ( But here’s an overview of what we will offer in January 2014:

Weekly “After Dark in the Park” programs in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitor center will begin with an update on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone eruption on Jan. 7. This talk will be followed on subsequent Tuesday evenings by an update on Kilauea’s summit eruption in Halema‘uma‘u Crater, stories of Kilauea’s 1924 explosive eruption from the perspective of people who lived through it, and the smelly subject of Kilauea’s volcanic gas emissions on Jan. 14, 21 and 28, respectively. Each of these programs begins at 7 p.m.

An additional “After Dark in the Park” program related to volcano awareness will be held on Feb. 4. This talk will address the unresolved issues and unanswered questions faced by volcanologists in Hawaii today. These “points requiring elucidation” (a phrase borrowed from geologist James D. Dana, 1890) will also be the topics of four “Volcano Watch” articles — written weekly by HVO scientists — during the month of January.

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, a talk about the eruptive history and current status of Mauna Loa will be presented in the Ocean View Community Center at 6:30 p.m. Parts of the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates subdivision are built on, or immediately downslope of, Mauna Loa’s Southwest Rift Zone, so it’s important for residents to be aware of the volcano that is, quite literally, in their “backyard.”

Volcano awareness presentations will also be offered at the University of Hawaii at Hilo on two Thursday evenings. Recent geologic work on human footprints preserved in Ka‘u volcanic ash deposits will be on Jan. 9, with Hawaiian fissure eruptions and how they work on Jan. 16. Both talks will be at 7 p.m. in University Classroom Building room 100 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the volcanic history, stories, and impacts of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa lava flows you see along Highway 19 will be recounted during a virtual road trip from Ka‘u to North Kona. This presentation will be held in the NELHA Gateway Visitor Center, located just south of the Kona International Airport, and will begin right after work, at 5:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., HVO scientists will set up a display, distribute information and be available to answer questions about Hawaiian volcanoes during the Ellison Onizuka Science Day ( at UH-Hilo. HVO’s Volcano Awareness Month talks are free and open to the public, but park entrance fees apply for the “After Dark in the Park” programs. We will also distribute general interest booklets and other free USGS publications about Hawaiian volcanoes at these talks.

We encourage you to check out the Volcano Awareness Month schedule and mark your calendar now so that you can join us for our presentations in January 2014. It will be a great time for you to learn more about Hawaii’s volcanoes and to meet some of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists who monitor them.

A lava lake within the Halema‘uma‘u Overlook vent produced nighttime glow that was visible via HVO’s webcam during the past week.

A prolonged deflation-inflation cycle (DI event) spanned much of the past week, and the lava-lake level fluctuated correspondingly.

On Kilauea’s East Rift Zone, the Kahauale‘a 2 flow continues to advance slowly into the forest northeast of Pu‘u ‘O‘o. The active front of the flow is about 5.8 km (3.6 miles) northeast of Pu‘u ‘O‘o.

Two earthquakes in the past week were reported felt on the Island of Hawaii. On Saturday, Dec. 7, at 10:27 p.m., a magnitude-3.8 earthquake occurred 10 km (6 miles) southeast of Holualoa at a depth of 15 km (9 miles). On Monday, Dec. 9, at 2:29 a.m., a magnitude-3.2 earthquake occurred 4 km (2 miles) southeast of Pu‘u ‘O‘o at a depth of 8 km (5 miles).

Visit the HVO website ( for past Volcano Awareness Month articles and current Kilauea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call 967-8862 for a Kilauea summary; email questions to

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


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