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Volcanowatch

June 18, 2009

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


Give new life to your old photographs of Hawai`i's volcanoes!

A view of the lava lake within Halema`uma`u Crater on December 27, 1911, with Uwekahuna bluff (where HVO and the Jaggar Museum now stand) and Mauna Loa in the background. The lake level had risen about 120 m (400 ft) since October 1911 and will drop 90 m (300 ft) in January, 1912, the month that HVO was founded by Thomas A. Jaggar's arrival for duty.
A view of the lava lake within Halema`uma`u Crater on December 27, 1911, with Uwekahuna bluff (where HVO and the Jaggar Museum now stand) and Mauna Loa in the background. The lake level had risen about 120 m (400 ft) since October 1911 and will drop 90 m (300 ft) in January, 1912, the month that HVO was founded by Thomas A. Jaggar's arrival for duty.

The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is certainly true, especially when it comes to photographs of Hawaiian eruptions and volcanic landscapes from earlier times.

Long-time readers of "Volcano Watch" might recall our January 20, 2005, article (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/2005/05_01_20.html), which describes an HVO geologist's excitement at finding an 1860s photo of Kilauea's caldera. By comparing the photo to a present-day view of the caldera, he could see the location of volcanic features described in written records (with less than a thousand words) but no longer visible today—a valuable discovery when your job is to decipher a volcano's eruptive history.

Without realizing it, you or a family member may have captured a similarly important historical record of Hawai`i's volcanoes. How? By taking a photo and keeping it.

Your `ohana, like many families, probably has several albums—or shoe boxes—filled with old photographs. Perhaps your great-grandmother took a picture of a long-ago Kilauea summit eruption or your brother snapped a photo of `a`a lava as it flowed down the slopes of Mauna Loa. If you possess photographs that show volcanic landscapes or features, volcanic fume (vog), or any kind of eruptive activity, HVO geologists would like to hear from you and see the photos.

We learn the most from photographs that have some documentation about when and where they were taken. Date and location are essential pieces of information that help us interpret the geologic significance of a photo. If people are recognizable in a photograph, their names should also be included. Any other details you can provide about the image will add to its meaning.

Wide-angle shots are more helpful than close-ups. For example, if a photo is zoomed in on the leading edge of a lava flow and shows nothing else, we cannot determine the size of the flow-or much of anything else—from the image. With wide-angle views, we can see the geographic or geologic context of the eruptive activity or volcanic features shown in the photograph.

If you're interested in sharing your photos with HVO scientists, the first thing you should do is contact us by telephone (808-967-7328) or email us (askHVO@usgs.gov). Geologists are standing by to speak with you. The purpose of this initial conversation is to determine which of your photographs might be beneficial to our research and monitoring efforts on Hawai`i's volcanoes. We will then send you additional information on how we can receive and duplicate photos selected from your collection.

No need to worry about giving up your photographs—you retain ownership of them. We will return your photos to you after duplicating the images selected as most useful. In appreciation of your loaning us the photographs, we will be happy to give you digital copies of the images we scan.

To kick off our effort to expand HVO's photographic collection of Hawai`i's volcanoes, we are asking at this time to see photographs from 1924 and earlier. Those years included frequent lava lake activity in Halema`uma`u Crater and culminated in the explosive eruptions of May 1924.

Pre-1924 photos are of particular interest to us now because they could shed light on Kilauea's current summit eruption. Even if they show no eruptive activity, early photographs of Kilauea's caldera can contribute to a better understanding of the volcano's past and reveal features that are no longer visible. The same is true for early photos of Mauna Loa and Hualalai.

We will initially focus on early historical photographs, but you can contact us about any volcanic images you think might interest us. Although we may not be able to look at photos taken in recent decades right away, we would eventually like to see them. Our ultimate goal is to acquire images from the 1800s through the 20th century.

So, please lend us a hand while taking a trip down memory lane. Look through your family photos and contact HVO if you find images of Hawai`i's volcanoes. Your old photographs could give new life to eruptive events and volcanic landscapes rapidly fading from our visual memories.

Kīlauea Activity Update

Surface flows in the Royal Gardens subdivision remained active as of Thursday, June 18, burning through forested kipuka. Another area of breakouts active higher up on the pali was also reported. The Waikupanaha and Kupapa`u ocean entries remain active and continue to produce prominent plumes as lava spills into the ocean.

At Kīlauea's summit, the vent within Halema`uma`u Crater continues to emit elevated amounts of volcanic gas, resulting in high concentrations of sulfur dioxide downwind. Bright glow from the vent was visible at night through the past week. A collaborative effort last week between HVO and UH-Manoa scientists, using a sophisticated optical remote-sensing technology called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), has measured the lava surface to be about 205 m (675 feet) below the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater.

No earthquakes beneath Hawai`i Island were reported felt this past week.

Visit our Web site (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov) for detailed Kīlauea and Mauna Loa activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes, and more; call (808) 967-8862 for a Kīlauea activity summary; email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov. 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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Updated: June 29, 2009 (pnf)