Advanced Seismology Studies

Jean Battaglia came to HVO from the Reunion Volcano Observatory in the Indian Ocean, as a Post Doctoral trainee. He worked to refine a technique for analyzing seismic signals in Hawaiʻi using spectral analysis of the seismic signals received at the various seismometers in HVO's network. His spectral plots consist of a matrix with 1440 lines (the number of minutes in 24 hours) along one axis and the frequency spectrum along the other. Under default background conditions, the entire spectrum is plotted in blue; but when an earthquake occurs, or harmonic tremor is detected, the frequency channels will "light up" in the plot with warmer colors reflecting higher amplitudes in discrete frequency bands of the spectrum. The results enable the seismic team to visualize, and analyze, the changing spectra of earthquakes or harmonic tremor.

Kass Ulmer is a seismic analyst, who started working at HVO during the pandemic: "I primarily work on clearing a backlog of unreviewed earthquakes spanning the last ten years. I also respond to real-time events such as large earthquakes and seismic swarms."

A man sits in front of a computer
Jean Battaglia worked on spectral analysis.
A scientist in orange safety shirt sets a seismometer in the ground
In January 2021, Kass Ulmer levels a seismic node at the summit of Kilauea. Photo courtesy HVO.
Seismic station in the field
A broadband seismic station is set up to receive signals.

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo graduates David Whilldin and Jason Meyer reinstalled a number of broadband seismometers around the summit of Kīlauea. These highly specialized three-component instruments are able to detect waves with amplitudes ranging from 50 Hertz to 60 seconds. In contrast, conventional seismometers pick up a much smaller band, typically from 50 Hertz to 1 second. The broadband instruments allow scientists to collect much more detailed information about the magma transportation system beneath and adjacent to Halemaʻumaʻu.