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March 18, 1998

A weekly feature provided by scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.


HVO in cyberspace: new web site goes online

Sharing the results of scientific investigations on Hawai`i's volcanoes has always been a primary goal of scientists working at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. In 1912, Thomas A. Jaggar, Director of HVO, published the first series of informal newsletters about the activity of Kilauea and Mauna Loa. In a variety of ways since then--such as the Volcano Watch column--HVO scientists have described to residents of Hawai`i, and to people throughout the world, what they have learned about Hawai`i's volcanoes--and about reducing risks from the very activity that has created and shaped the islands on which we live.

Today, we extend our interest in bringing volcanology to the public by launching into cyberspace with a newly designed web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov). The new graphic design and navigational aids allow us to present a wealth of new information for you to explore about Hawai`i's volcanoes. The explosion of new web sites in the past two years also permits us to introduce you to related volcano information and resources provided elsewhere.

So what's already on our new web site? Here are a few highlights.

You can find detailed descriptions and illustrations of how lava entering the sea creates new land. You'll learn how this dramatic process threatens people who venture too near the entry points with steam-driven explosions and sudden collapses into the sea (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/hazards/oceanentry).

Are you having a hard time keeping track of the current eruption of Kilauea? Check out the current update (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia) and the richly illustrated summary of the entire eruption since 1983 to learn about the growth and partial destruction of Pu`u `O`o (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/summary).

Are you concerned about what areas will be covered by lava flows during the next eruption of Mauna Loa? Although we can't yet tell the actual areas that will be buried, you can start to learn about the critical factors that will determine where the lava will flow and about the lava-flow hazard zones on the volcano (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maunaloa/hazards). Be sure to check out Mauna Loa's historical eruptions, including a narrative of the 1984 lava flows that came to within 6.5 km (4 miles) of the outskirts of Hilo and for a time threatened Kulani Prison (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maunaloa/history).

Do you wonder why so many more earthquakes occur beneath the Big Island than the other Hawaiian Islands? Hawai`i's earthquakes are caused either by magma moving below ground or by the gravitational instability of the island's enormous volcano flanks and underlying crust (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/earthquakes). The older islands have little or no magma and have already done most of their rapid sinking. Thanks to the efforts of Gerard Fryer (at the University of Hawai`i's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/), who has been putting past issues of Volcano Watch on the Internet, you'll now be able to access all of the essays since 1994 on our web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch). There is almost no limit to what can be presented on the web about Hawai`i's volcanism. Learn how to obtain and access the remarkable database of publications about Hawaiian volcanoes recently put online (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/products) in order to benefit from the more than 9000 articles written by scientists, missionaries, journalists, and naturalists in the past 200 years.

Visitors to our web site will find that we use the metric system almost exclusively, because we expect a large number of international visitors. We think it is also best for American students, who learn the metric system in school and need to practice its application in the real world.

Our new web site is only the beginning of our experiment to share with you the results of our work in cyberspace. Parts of it are incomplete, but much more is to come, so keep surfing the HVO web site! If you don't find what you are looking for, write (webmaster@hvo.wr.usgs.gov) or call us with your idea. We want to hear what you want to know about Hawai`i's volcanoes via our new web site.

Eruption and Earthquake Update

There were no apparent changes in the eruptive activity from the vent within Pu`u `O`o during the past seven days. Lava continued to flow through a network of tubes down to the seacoast where it entered the ocean at two locations - Waha`ula and Kamokuna. The public is reminded that the ocean entry areas are extremely hazardous, with explosions accompanying frequent collapses of the lava delta. The steam cloud is highly acidic and laced with glass particles.

There were no earthquakes reported felt during the past week.


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Updated: 26 March 1998