|Volcanologist Jim Kauahikaua in front of a dome fountain from a skylight at 2,450 feet elevation on Feb. 1, 1996. |
Photo by Carl Thornber, U.S. Geological Survey
ALOHA ‘OE TO THE LATE, REMARKABLE, BELOVED VOLCANOLOGIST, DR. JIM PU'UPAI KAUAHIKAUA is the message in the latest Volcano Watch. The weekly column by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates points out that Kauahikaua was a respected geophysicist and the first Kānaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiian) to serve as Scientist-in-Charge of the
|Dr. Jim Kauahikaua was first Kānaka Maoli to be|
Scientist in Charge at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Kauahikawa grew up on Oʻahu; he attended Kamehameha Schools, Pomona College in California, and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In 1988, he joined the staff at HVO as a research geophysicist and found his true home living among and studying the volcanoes on the Island of Hawai‘i. He was dedicated to pursuing research that would directly benefit the people of Hawaiʻi Nei.
His first projects applied electrical resistivity in large surveys across the Island of Hawaiʻi to map groundwater resources in west Hawaiʻi and the Humu‘ula Saddle. He also mapped water-saturated rock around the summit of Kīlauea volcano, which became important in his later work.
Kauahikawa creatively adapted similar techniques to measure the dimensions of active lava flowing within lava tubes. Along with lava flow velocities, this information was used to calculate changes in eruption rates which was crucial as the community of Kalapana was covered by lava in 1990. The destruction there triggered his strong interest in lava flow hazards and mitigation, topics that continued to be focal points of his research throughout his career.
The internal structure of volcanoes also intrigued Kauahikawa, as a means to better understand patterns
|Kauahikaua using an instrument that detects very low|
frequencies on Pu'u'ō'ō lava flows. USGS photo
Over the course of his career, Kauahikawa gradually grew from a scientist to a scientific historian with a deep interest in exploring the intersection of western scientific thought and traditional Hawaiian knowledge. Initially, he read accounts in English, largely written by westerners, detailing Hawaiian recollections of past events. Later, he worked with a variety of collaborators translating documents written in Hawaiian so that their perspectives on volcanic events could provide a better understanding of how Hawaiian volcanoes work.
Kauahikawa worked with colleagues in the National Park Service and other organizations to develop ways to communicate that resonated more deeply with the community. He was also involved in Na Pua Noʻeau and other groups that engage Native Hawaiian students. In 2013, he arranged a workshop bringing scientists and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners together. He wrote of that event, "we hope that a broader interest in Hawaiian views about locations in Hawaiʻi where physical scientific work is done will...benefit
|Kauahikaua conducts an interview at the summit of Kīlauea as |
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge. USGS photo
Kauahikawa's tenure as HVO Scientist-in-Charge, from 2004–2015, was one of the longest in HVO's history. During those years, he navigated HVO staff through several periods of volcanic unrest and crisis. He also led an effort to modernize HVO's monitoring network, developing a resilient telemetry structure that allowed the network to remain operating even after the HVO building was damaged in 2018. He was recognized for his substantial career contributions in both science and leadership by the US Geological Survey and the Department of the Interior in 2015 with a Citation for Meritorious Service.
After stepping down as Scientist in Charge, Kauahikawa served as the principle HVO contact to emergency management officials during Kīlauea's devastating 2018 eruption. His combined knowledge of community, historical eruptive activity, and lava flow hazards was crucial to keeping responders informed as the eruption progressed.
When water appeared within Halemaʻumaʻu in 2019, it confirmed his early career work that Kīlauea's summit was underlain by water-saturated rock at shallow levels. Kauahikawa then poured through Hawaiian literature, finding references to Pelehonuamea facing the threat of water drowning her volcanic fires at Kīlauea summit, which suggests water had previously been present there. Most recently, he had been focusing on using various records to create detailed reconstructions of eruptive histories extending into the early 1800s as a means to better understand the range of activity we could expect during periods of prolonged summit eruptions.
Volcano Watch concludes with the big picture. "Kauahikawa brought volcano monitoring at HVO into the modern era and established a deeper cultural understanding of how HVO is connected to the ʻāina and the people we serve. We are grateful to Jim for his passion and dedication, which will continue to inspire us moving forward."
REMEMBERING JIM KAUAHIKAUA, Cindy Orlando, Principal Deputy Regional Director of the National Park Service, Pacific West Region, who worked with Kauahikaua as Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent, said, "Jim and I worked closely on educating the world to the nexus between science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, with an emphasis on Pele and her rebirth of the landscape that is HVNP. We had a unique working relationship addressing geologic influences on land management and park operation decisions, and the delicate balance between personal safety and reverence for what was occurring. Jim is a dear friend and colleague I will deeply miss."
|Kauahikaua was known for his public outreach|
to help the community understand the science
at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. USGS photo
USGS VOLCANO ACTIVITY UPDATES: Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY.
The area just south of Kīlauea's summit continues to show signs of episodic unrest. Overall, inflation at the summit of Kīlauea remains high and has surpassed the level seen just before the most recent eruption on September 10th. Seismicity in the region south of Kīlauea caldera summit continues, though at decreased rates from the peak in activity on October 6. The most recent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate, of approximately 100 tonnes per day, was measured on Oct. 6.
Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.
Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Seismicity remains low. Summit ground deformation rates indicate slow inflation as magma replenishes the reservoir system following the recent eruption. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.
Two earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week: a M2.8 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) WSW of Pāhala at 31 km (19 mi) depth on Oct. 17 at 1:06 p.m. HST and a M3.2 earthquake 32 km (19 mi) WNW of Puako at 39 km (24 mi) depth on Oct. 12 at 5:28 p.m. HST.
HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.
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TO HELP REDUCE RISK OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE, Hawaiʻi Police Department encourages the public to participate in a nationwide prescription drug take-back initiative on Saturday, Oct. 28. HPD is cooperating with the state Attorney General, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety's Narcotics Enforcement Division and other police departments in the Hawaiian Islands.
Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., members of the public may turn in unused, unneeded, or expired prescription medications at the following collection sites for safe, anonymous disposal: Ka Waena Lapaʻau Medical Complex parking lot at 670 Ponahawai Street, Hilo and Kona Police Station – inside lobby
74-0611 at Hale Makaʻi Place, Kailua-Kona.
Tablets, capsules, and all other solid dosage forms of medication will be accepted. Vape or e-cigarette devices will be collected ONLY after batteries are removed. New or used needles and syringes will not be accepted.
Illicit substances, such as marijuana or methamphetamine, are not a part of this initiative.
Having unused and expired medicine in the home increases the risk of prescription drug abuse and accidental poisoning. Proper disposal also helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.
Police want to remind the public that as part of the State of Hawaii, Department of Health’s Medication Drop Box Program, prescription medications may also be dropped off year-round at each of the eight district police stations:
Kaʻū Police Station at 95-5355 Mamalohoa Highway, Nāʻālehu
Kona Police Station at 74-611 Hale Maka‘i Place, Kailua-Kona
Hilo Police Station at 349 Kapiolani Street, Hilo,
Puna Station at 15-2615 Keaau-Pahoa Highway, Pāhoa
North Hilo Police Station at Pu'ualaea Homestead Road, Laupahoehoe
Honoka'a Police Station at 45-3400 Mamane Street, Honoka'a
Waimea Police Station at 67-5185 Kamamalu Street, Waimea
Kapa'au Police Station at 54-3900 Akoni Pule Highway, Kapa‘au
For more information about the drug take-back program, visit www.takebackday.dea.gov.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.
See www.hawaiiwildfire.org/cwpp-resources and state Department of Land & Natural Resources website: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/fire/community-risk-reduction/community-wildfire-protection-plans/.