Sunday | July 23, 2017
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Land Board approves additional sites for Hualalai geothermal survey

The state Land Board has signed off on a University of Hawaii researcher’s request to more than double the number of survey sites included in a permit to explore for geothermal energy under the dormant Hualalai volcano.

The project, the first exploration permit in an overall effort referred to as the “Geothermal Resources Exploration Plan for Hawaii,” is funded by the DLNR and U.S. Department of Energy.

The Land Board voted unanimously Friday to approve the request, increasing the number of locations permitted for non-invasive geophysical study along Hualalai Rift Zone, just north of Kailua-Kona, from nine to 19.

Donald Thomas, director of The Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH-Hilo, said the main reason for adding additional sites was to avoid costly environmental assessments that were required on some of the original parcels.

Researchers will conduct their study using a standard technique called a magnetotelluric survey, which maps the electrical conductivity of rocks at depths from several hundred feet to as much as 20,000 feet below the surface.

Work is expected to commence as early as this summer, according to Thomas. At least two people urged board members not to approve UH’s request for additional sites.

Email Chris D’Angelo at


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