Cooperative Research

Monitoring & Assessment of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes

CSAV's cooperative research program enables us to work with and provide specialized support to the US Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and includes seismologic, geodetic, and geochemical monitoring and analysis. This program, established in 1998 through Senator Daniel Inouye, helps HVO to better fulfill its mission to monitor Hawaiʻi's volcanoes and to manage their potential hazards. The program also helps CSAV in its mission to provide state-of-the-art training in volcano hazards monitoring and to improve public awareness of volcano hazards in Hawaiʻi. And UH Hilo Geology majors get valuable experience assisting HVO scientists in research projects.

Student chats with scientist at computer
Carolyn Parcheta of USGS, seated, shows Audria Dennen how to identify cracks from the 2018 eruption in Puna.
Student with rock samples
UH Hilo Geology major Alice Martin wraps tephra samples (from Fissure 8) for density measurements.

New Internship Program

Stephanie Dinkins
Stephanie Dinkins

CSAV’s student internship program allows UH Hilo majors in Geology and Computer Science the opportunity to work at HVO on research projects. Stephanie Dinkins, who has a BS degree in Geology and is working towards a degree in Computer Science, spent the summer of 2008 under the guidance of HVO geophysicists Dave Wilson and Paul Okubo. One project added new functionality to several multi-threaded Earthworm programs (a real-time seismic processing system), including the ability to collect and output statistical information. Dinkins wrote scripts to process and store large data sets. This script parsed both text and streaming Earthworm data that could be compared and then stored in a MySQL database. One such script automated the process of parsing historical data that had been stored on many external hard drives, so that it could be relocated to a master database. Centralizing the storage of the data makes it more readily available for comparison and analysis by HVO scientists. Another project involved system Administration. Dinkins assisted in the installation and configuration of Big Brother network monitoring software for computers running Windows and Linux operating systems within the same network. The network monitoring software aids in identifying real-time network issues for attention and repair.

Student with Total Field Station
Sean O'Neill, UH Hilo Geology student intern, surveys Mokuaweoweo Caldera using a Total Field Station.

In 2004, Sean O’Neill led a precise survey of Mokuaweoweo. For this mapping project, the elevations across nearly the entire caldera were determined using a Total Field Station. In the event of a future summit eruption, this detailed information will be invaluable in calculating the volume of new flows within the caldera.

Past interns include Daisy Wheeler, Steve Clegg, and John O'Brien.

Find out details about past interns, and how to apply for this internship.

Deformation Studies

In 2001, Ralf Krug developed an integrated data management platform that was the predecessor of VALVE, an innovative archival and real-time database that allows HVO staff to compare seismic amplitude, tilt, and gas emissions on a common time base.

This computer network requires dedicated administration, currently provided by Loren Antolik (now employed directly by HVO). He develops programs that automatically ingest new HVO data sets, and creates routines for plotting the data to allow interactive visualization through VALVE. Antolik also participates in data collection and the maintenance and installation of continuously recording instruments.

Scientist near a lava tube
Loren Antolik calculates the speed of lava at a skylight above a lava tube.
Scientist works at a computer
Back in the office, Loren Antolik maintains the VALVE computer network.

Read more about deformation projects!

Seismic Analysis

UH Hilo graduate Jason Meyer installed broadband seismometers at Kilauea's summit, allowing scientists to collect detailed information over a much larger range of bandwidth than is provided by standard seismometers.

Jean Battaglia spent a year at HVO refining a technique using spectral analysis of seismic signals. Frequency channels "light up" on a blue background in proportion to higher amplitudes in discrete frequency bands of the spectrum, enabling the scientists to visualize and analyze the nature of earthquakes and tremor.

Read more about seismic projects!

Student installs seismic station
Jason Meyer installs a seismic station on Kilauea.
Closeup of pahoehoe lava
Jean Battaglia works on spectral analysis.

Volcanic Hazards and Society

Two men standing outside
Chris Gregg analyzes risk

The Cooperative Research program partial support for research involving volcanology and social science in order to understand 1) the societal factors that influence risk from volcanic hazards in Hawaiʻi and 2) public attitudes toward the mitigation of lava flows with controversial and politically sensitive measures such as earthen barriers. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate student Chris Gregg analyzed previously lost and forgotten survey data collected during the 1960 eruption of Kilauea volcano in Kapoho in order to understand public attitudes toward lava flow hazard mitigation strategies. Gregg also conducted a study of public perceptions regarding the hazards posed by future eruptions of Mauna Loa. This effort involved a detailed sequence of surveys conducted on the island both before and after dissemination of volcano hazards information on the island. This work formed a portion of Gregg’s Ph.D. dissertation.

Geochemical Monitoring

CSAV has supported the gas geochemistry group in the ongoing development of a new generation of miniaturized correlation spectrometers that have replaced the now-obsolete Barringer Research COSPEC. CSAV provided equipment and supplies for fabrication of calibration cells for the new instruments, developed by SOEST colleagues Drs. Keith Horton and Harold Garbiel, and CSAV staff developed a simplified process for filling the calibration cells that substantially reduced the cost of building a complete system. The Coop program has also contributed major equipment to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's geochemical monitoring program: an OP-FTIR (Open-Path Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy), used to analyze the composition of volcanic gas in the field.

Read more about the OP-FTIR.

Geology and Mapping

The Cooperative Research grant allows geologists to assist researchers at HVO. Past assistants have monitored the current eruption of Kilauea and maintained the GIS data base, and developed lava flow risk maps for Mauna Loa. Read details about geology projects!

Scientist near an aa lava flow
Liliana DeSmither documents an aa flow that is moving downhill from Puu Oo.
Scientist near a cooling lava flow
Mike Zoeller checks on a recent lava flow in Leilani Estates.

Public Outreach

David Caravalho stands next to a model of a volcano
David Carvalho and a young visitor examine a model of an eruption

Although the Coop Program's primary focus is on research, a percentage of the funding is used for educating the public about the hazards resulting from volcanic eruptions. As the HVO web site states:

“The best defense against any natural hazard is education. Residents and public officials should be aware of the hazards in a given area so that they can make rational decisions regarding where to build homes, develop property for commercial use, and locate public facilities. A well-informed public will neither overreact to the hazards nor ignore them.”

Read more about Coop outreach projects!