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December 17, 1998

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


Scientist-in-Charge of HVO Recognized at International Conference?

Last week, four members of the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory attended the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. AGU has a membership of more than 35,000 scientists from 115 countries, and 8,275 of the members attended this meeting. Major disciplines represented at the meeting include Earth, atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic, space, and planetary sciences.

The week-long meeting provides a forum for researchers to present and discuss the results of their studies with their peers. In addition to receiving peer review of their research, another benefit of attending the fall AGU meeting is the exposure to new products, techniques, and research being conducted by others. Eleven of HVO's personnel were involved as authors or co-authors of papers given at this year's conference.

Hawai`i continues to be an area of high interest to earth science researchers. Eighty-six talks or posters on earth science presented at the meeting were based on research conducted in Hawai`i or on Hawaiian samples. Two sessions of the volcanology section were devoted to "Mitigation of Volcano Hazards in the 21st Century," and HVO personnel actively participated in them.

The highlight of the AGU fall meeting is the honors ceremony, where distinguished scientists who attain acknowledged eminence in their field are recognized as Fellows of the American Geophysical Union. This year, 21 members were inducted as Fellows, and Donald Swanson, Scientist-in-Charge of HVO, was one of those honored. Don was recognized for his innovation, scientific leadership, and important advances toward an understanding of how volcanoes work. We at HVO are proud to work with such an accomplished and honored scientist.

Kilauea Volcano also had an event last week. Some time between December 10 and December 11, 5.8 ha (14.5 acres) of new land slid into the ocean. Part of this block was the new bench being formed at the ocean entry, and 2.4 ha (5.3 acres) were from earlier flows adjacent to the new bench. In other words, the collapse involved the new bench and part of the adjoining older flows from Pu`u `O`o.

The collapse exposed the lava tube feeding the ocean entry, and for a period of time, there was a stream of lava cascading into the ocean like a fire hose. A tube now covers the lava spigot, and another new bench is forming.

Eruption Update

Except for the event described above, there was no change in the eruptive activity of Kilauea Volcano. Lava continued to erupt from Pu`u `O`o and flow through a network of tubes from the vent to the sea. No surface flows from breakouts of the tube system were observed on the coastal flats. Lava is entering the ocean near Kamokuna and forming a new bench. The public is reminded that the ocean entry areas are extremely hazardous, with explosions accompanying frequent collapses of the new land. The steam clouds are highly acidic and laced with glass particles.

There were no earthquakes reported felt since December 9, 1998.

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Updated: 18 Dec 1998