GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 239-2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM


NEAL, Christina A., US Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, 1266 Kamehameha Ave Suite A8, Hilo, HI 96720 and MURRAY, Thomas L., Volcano Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 4230 University Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508

The 2018 rift eruption and summit collapse of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawai‘i was the most destructive volcanic event in the United States since 1980. Over more than 100 days of lava effusion, damaging earthquakes, and episodic collapse of the summit caldera floor, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) with substantial support of the other USGS volcano observatories worked 24/7 to track activity, issue public warnings, share information with emergency authorities, and gather data to further understanding of basaltic volcanism and hazards. HVO and its Hawai‘i-based affiliates led the response but were soon joined by a rotating team of more than 80 colleagues from across USGS and the Department of the Interior. Requirements to staff emergency operations centers in Hilo and Honolulu, participate in a full Incident Command System (ICS), maintain around-the-clock presence at the eruption site, and monitor geophysical data streams across the volcano meant that reinforcements both onsite and working remotely were essential. In addition, HVO had to relocate its facilities to Hilo two weeks into the event. Authorities limited scientific access to the eruption and collapse sites to official USGS response personnel or those under the umbrella of USGS response. Academic scientists from the US and abroad were incorporated when science objectives filled critical gaps and logistics would not impede response activities. For the first time in a US eruption response, Unmanned Aerial Systems were used to gather data, inform civil responders, and augment the work of ground crews. In addition, the Hawaii Civil Air Patrol and citizen scientists made important contributions to documenting events and impacts. Social media played a large role in two-way information sharing, providing alternate ways to reach affected populations but also challenging traditional notions of information management. The protracted and multi-faceted volcanic crisis tested the USGS’ ability to (1) operate within ICS in two locations; (2) maintain a steady flow of helpful information to a worldwide audience; and (3) effectively support research efforts while fulfilling volcano hazard assessment duties. Lessons learned will assist USGS and collaborating institutions prepare for the next large eruption in the US.