Hawaiian Volcano 

Photo Information

Geologist on rim of Pu`u`O`o cone
Photograph by M.T. Mangan on January 10, 1992

Direct visual observation of eruptive activity in Pu`u `O`o's crater on Kilauea Volcano is only one way that we monitor Hawai`i's volcanoes. In order to provide timely information on potential activity, we continuously monitor seismic and volcanic activity, including changes that occur both underground and on a volcano's surface as magma rises from below prior to eruption. Volcano monitoring is our principal research task and generates a vast amount of data on seismicity, ground deformation, chemistry of volcanic gases and erupted lavas, changes in electrical and magnetic properties, and changes in gravitational attraction.

The ultimate aims of our research program are to provide (1) models of the physical processes that govern the generation of basaltic magma and its movement from the mantle to shallow storage in the crust and eventual eruption; (2) volcano-tectonic models that relate the accumulation of strain from subsurface movement of magma to the release of seismic energy in the form of earthquakes; and (3) sufficient understanding of both volcanic and tectonic processes to make accurate forecasts of volcanic and seismic activity.

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How Hawaiian Volcanoes Work

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Updated: 11 March 1998