The Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes offers unique educational and research opportunities in a beautiful and diverse natural setting. CSAV is located in the same building as the University of Hawaii at Hilo Geology Department. Hilo (population of about 45,000) is located on the Island of Hawaii, commonly referred to as the "Big Island" because it is the largest of the Hawaiian chain. The Big Island is formed by five volcanoes; they are Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, the latter three being active. Tropical rainforests, beautiful waterfalls and palm-lined oceans can all be seen within the city limits of Hilo. Visible from campus are Hilo Bay and the occasionally snowcapped summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Elsewhere on the island are grasslands with cattle ranches, secluded beaches, coral reefs, deserts replete with cacti and, of course, active volcanoes.
The UHH/Geology building, completed in 1989, contains new equipment and laboratories representing an investment of over 1.3 million dollars by the state of Hawaii. The component laboratories, classrooms, and support facilities have been designed to house a complete and state-of-the-art geology department, and CSAV's volcano monitoring program complements the department well.
Volcano Monitoring Systems
CSAV's volcano monitoring systems include:
Global Positioning System (GPS)
One of CSAV's GPS receivers collects data near Mauna Ulu.
GPS is one of the fastest growing technologies in use today and is finding increasingly widespread applications in both scientific and industrial fields. CSAV owns four Leica SR-520 GPS Survey Systems, which are capable of delivering sub-centimeter level position fixing. GPS surveys are conducted to collect geographical data and to measure surface deformation.
Total Field Station/EDM
The Total Field Station is used in a survey near Sand Hill on Kilauea.
Another state-of-the-art method used by CSAV scientists and students to monitor surface deformation is electronic distance measurement (EDM) technology. EDM employs an infrared laser system to achieve altitude and azimuth positioning to millimeter-level tolerances. A Wild DI-3000 Distomat (total field station), one of the most precise surveying stations currently available, is owned and operated by CSAV.
CSAV students level along the East Rift Zone of Kilauea.
One of the most tried and true methods of measuring changes in elevation over time and space is line leveling. CSAV owns two complete leveling systems, the heart of which are the Wild NAK-2 spirit levels. When used with our Wild calibrated leveling rods, elevation profiles may be determined to millimeter-level precision over distances of several kilometers. Generally, leveling is the simplest and most robust means of deformation monitoring.
Monitoring seismic waves propagated through the earth's crust is a traditional and effective means of gathering structural information about the earth's interior. Most volcanic events are characterized, and may even be predicted to some degree, by seismic activity. In conjunction with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), CSAV collects continuous seismic data from permanent stations on the island. In addition, CSAV operates two PS-2 portable seismometers which can be rapidly deployed in the field to collect data from specific locations.
CSAV's telemetry relay station is located at the 8000' elevation on Mauna Loa. Radio signals from the USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are sent to UH-Hilo by means of this link, which allows access to the seismic signals from eight of over 60 HVO seismic stations.
Dave King changes the seismic records at CSAV, noting the events of the previous day.
CSAV shares these resources with the UHH Geology Department whose facilities include a well-equipped rock and mineral preparation laboratory. Visit the UHH Geology site for details.