Students Participate in GIS Mapping of Lava Flow

December 15, 2014, 8:19 AM HST · Updated December 16, 8:40 AM
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Maui students. Photo courtesy UH Maui College.

Maui students. Photo courtesy UH Maui College.

By Maui Now Staff

Students at the University of Hawaiʻi are among those utilizing Geographic Information Systems technologies to map and track the Puna lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.

School administrators say the GIS data will be shared with the US Geological Survey and the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Observatory as the basis for all mapping and lava flow monitoring for the area.

Department representatives say the students are part of the first “multi-island cohort” in a new hybrid course offered online with in-person labs at UH Maui College, Hawai‘i Community College and Kaua‘i Community College.

Dr. Ryan Perroy of UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi CC GIS Coordinator Victor Rasgado. Photo courtesy UH Maui College.

Dr. Ryan Perroy of UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi CC GIS Coordinator Victor Rasgado. Photo courtesy UH Maui College.

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Students enrolled in the accelerated, eight-week credit courses in Geographic Information Systems have the opportunity to pursue the subject matter further for a Certificate of Competence in GIS in Ecosystem Management.

To gain certification, students must complete two required courses–GIS 150 and GIS 180.  Both courses will be offered again from Jan. 12 to May 16, 2015.

“The overall purpose of the mapping project is to assist the UH Hilo Geology department in monitoring the lava flow in Puna and to measure the ‘rate of inflation’ of the lava once it has settled,” said Victor Rasgado, the GIS Coordinator on Hawaiʻi island in a program press release.

“I had the opportunity to see a drone in action which was taking many still photos of the active lava flow. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity I will never forget,” said Kristen Kiriu, a Hawaiʻi Island student in the press announcement.

Photo courtesy UH Maui College

Photo courtesy UH Maui College

Program administrators say GIS technology allows users to “visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends.”

Sam Aruch, of Natural Resource Data Solutions, recently hired one of UH Maui College’s GIS Certificate program students saying, “For me, the student was a natural fit for our needs. She now has a solid foundation in the GIS skills we use everyday in our work, saving me time and money, and making our project delivery more efficient. We can also build upon her new GIS skills with on-the-job experience, without having to start from scratch,” Aruch said.

For more information on the courses visit the UH Maui College GIS link.

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