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Friday, May 26, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Friday, May 26, 2023

Some 1,800 seismic nodes have been placed across the summit to record seismic signals. USGS photo
USGS SHAKES THINGS UP AT AFTER DARK IN THE PARK this Tuesday at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. USGS geophysicist Roger Denlinger will describe earth-shaking work being done to get an image of the magma system beneath Kīlauea. He will describe an ongoing collaborative project with Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to image the magma system beneath Kīlauea volcano's summit and its extension into the upper rift zones. 
    As part of this project, 1,800 temporary seismic nodes (earthquake-detecting devices) have been placed across the summit to record seismic signals generated by a Vibroseis truck during May. The data will be analyzed with imaging methods similar to those common in the medical industry, such as CT scans. The presentation is part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park programs and sponsored by the Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Free, but park entrance fees apply.

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NOAA CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER forecasts dry weather through September for Kaʻū. The outlook was released this week by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, which said severe drought and an increased fire hazard are possible especially along the the leeward areas, up the west side from South Point.
    With above average rainfall during the wet season having produced a lot of growth in forests and rangelands, there is plentiful fuel and a high risk for wildfires should conditions become extremely dry. The dry season could also last longer than normal than August, predicted NOAA.
    Below average rainfall is expected throughout much of Hawai'i. Conditions "strongly favor El Niño development during the summer,” with increased temperatures of the Pacific Ocean into 2024. Forecasters gave the example of the ninth driest season in 30 years, which happened in 2009. National Weather                  Service Senior Hydrologist Steven Kodama said, “Impacts are expected to be the worst for non-irrigated agriculture, water systems dependent on surface water diversions.”

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SUMMER WORKSHOPS ONLINE FROM HAWAI'I FARMERS UNION UNITED cover Soil Fertility, Agroforestry, Vermiculture & Composting, Aquaculture & Production, and Water Rights.
Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United is collaborating with University of Hawaiʻi Hilo and the Marine & Environmental Research Institute of the Pacific to present the series. With support from the USDA Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program, the goal is to make these workshops accessible to anyone interested in learning about these subjects. The series begins Wednesday, May 31.

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LEGENDS OF ERUPTIONS PAST is the topic of Volcano Watch this week, written
 by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory gas technician Christine Sealing:
    Active volcanoes tell us their stories through earthquakes, deformation, gas emissions, and lava flows. We interpret those stories through myriad scientific instruments and record them in journals and news reports for generations to come. But what if a volcano isn't active and hasn't been in hundreds or even thousands of years? How can we learn their stories when now they slumber?
    Geoscience is full of tools to help us investigate the past. Using geochemistry and geochronology, for instance, we can reconstruct ancient magma chambers from their eruptive products even millennia after they formed. There is one important tool, however, that can sometimes be overlooked: oral history. Long before we were writing books or reading seismographs, our ancestors were recording events in their memories and passing them down through stories, poetry, and song. Today, we call them myths, legends, or oral traditions, and we can imagine these colorful stories being told for entertainment.
    Good stories, however, are usually rooted in real events, if you know how to look. Hawaiian oral traditions are full of riveting stories—like the two chiefs of Kahuku who became the two hills of Nāpuʻuapele—that can be traced in some cases directly to the eruptions they record. In other parts of the world, however, the connection is not so straightforward. Time and artistic embellishment have disguised many volcanic eruptions in oral traditions. Let's examine examples from Australia and Iceland.

Color photograph showing summit of Kīlauea Volcano
When a water lake began forming at the base of Halema'uma'u at the summit of Kīlauea, scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory looked to Hawaiian chants for mention of a crater lake before western contact and whether it was associated with explosive eruptions. Learn more here: https://www.usgs.gov/news/volcano-watch-scientists-look-hawaiian-chants-mention-past-crater-lakes.

    The dreaming stories of the Bungandidj (Boandik) people tell of a giant named Craitbul who traveled across southeastern Australia with his family in search of a home. First, they settled at Mt. Muirhead. They dug their cooking oven and were settled in for the night when they were awakened by a shrieking bullin (bird) warning them of an evil spirit. They fled their home and built a new cooking oven at Mt. Schank.
    Again, the bullin shrieked and chased the family from their rest. Eventually, they settled at Mt. Gambier. All was peaceful until one day water rose from the ground and destroyed their cooking fires. They dug their ovens again and again—four times!—and each time water rose to douse the flames, leaving gaping holes where their ovens once were. Finally, Craitbul and his family moved one last time and settled for good in a cave on the side of the peak.
    This dreaming recalls several eruptions, ending with the formation of four crater lakes at a maar volcano, Mt. Gambier in southeast Australia, about 4,500 years ago. Many dreaming stories from eastern Australia
Christine Sealing, USGS volcanic gas expert.
USGS photo
describe volcanic eruptions that Aboriginal people had witnessed and passed down in story for thousands of years.
    Another legend, passed down orally for hundreds of years in Iceland before being scribed by Snorri Sturluson, recounts a great duel between the god Thor and a giant, Hrungnir. It begins with the pounding of hooves as Thor's father, Odin, raced Hrungnir from Jötunheim, the land of the giants, to Asgard, the land of the gods. The gods invited Hrungnir for a feast, but soon he became loud and boastful, saying that he would kill the gods. He challenged Thor to a duel, and the two clashed brutally into the night. At one point, Hrungnir tries to protect himself by standing atop his great stone shield, thinking Thor would attack him from beneath the Earth. Instead, Thor hurled his mighty hammer from above. It collided with Hrungnir's whetstone in mid-air with a thunderclap, showering the land with sparks and shattered fragments.
    Rumbling hooves, bellowing giants on enormous stone shields, sparks and shattered stone raining from above... sounds like an eruption, doesn't it? So, why not just call it that? Why cloak these events in flowery language and turn them into myths or legends? Because that's how we'll remember them for thousands of years.
    Earth events fade from memory within a generation or two, but great stories become myths, legends, or oral traditions that are remembered far longer. We are wise, then, to listen to stories that our ancestors have passed to us for clues about Earth's history. Next time you come across a tale from long ago, imagine what real events may be hidden in the story.

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