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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.

New! Read the Romanian translation at Web Geek Science .

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.

John O'Brien runs a geodetic survey
John O'Brien runs a geodetic survey

During 2005-2006, John O’Brien worked on computer programs to help analyze HVO’s seismic monitoring network, so as to make a smooth transition from the Caltech-USGS Seismic Processing (CUSP) software to the Earthworm Seismic Software. O’Brien helped with station maintenance, deformation monitoring, and geophysical data recordings.

Past interns include Daisy Wheeler, Steve Clegg, and Sean O’Neill.

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

Deformation Studies

A man stands next to a lava skylight
Loren Antolik notes the level of lava in a skylight. Time-lapse camera will be used to correlate tilt events with lava fluctuations. Photo courtesy USGS/Tim Orr.

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. 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.

Read more about deformation projects!

Seismic Analysis

composite photo Sarah Abraham and HVO lobby screens. Photos by Pam Stewart
Sarah Abraham (left) is a Seismic Data Analyst. Her duties include scanning the 24-hour seismic drum records and assessing the overall seismicity. She uses computer analysis to determine magnitude and location, and tracks instrument performance, providing status reports to the electronics team. In the lobby of HVO, seismicity is compared with deformation and other data on a series of screens (right) installed by David Whilldin. These screens illustrate the capabilities of the VALVE system.
Composite photo of Jason Meyer, a seismometer, and David Whilldin
UH Hilo graduates Jason Meyer (left) and David Whilldin (right) 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!

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 Hawaii and 2) public attitudes toward the mitigation of lava flows with controversial and politically sensitive measures such as earthen barriers. University of Hawaii at Manoa 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!

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

Public Outreach

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.”

Pete Harnish, UH Hilo Computer Sciences graduate, is refining an interactive software package that plots trajectories of lava flows on the Big Island, using the Harris and Rowland kinematic thermo-rheological FLOGO model. Harnish began this work during a class project under Dr. Keith Edwards; students design products with useful applications in public outreach natural hazards awareness. The current model is preliminary; a finished version will enable first responders to more efficiently deploy resources and manage evacuations during eruption crises.

Read more about Coop outreach projects!