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Hawai‘i Volcano Hazards Program to Receive $4.7 M

July 18, 2018, 7:47 AM HST · Updated July 18, 8:04 AM
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PC: USGS (file photo July 13, 2018). USGS scientists captured this stunning aerial photo of Halema‘uma‘u and part of the Kīlauea caldera floor during a helicopter overflight of Kīlauea’s summit on July 13, 2018. In the lower third of the image, you can see the buildings that housed the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s Jaggar Museum, the museum parking area, and a section of the Park’s Crater Rim Drive. Although recent summit explosions have produced little ash, the drab gray landscape is a result of multiple thin layers of ash that have blanketed the summit area during the ongoing explosions.

The US House of Representatives last night approved more than $4.7 million for the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program to be included in an appropriations package.

This funding would allow for the staff on Hawaiʻi Island to relocate their office which was badly damaged by seismic activity from the ongoing Kīlauea eruption and forced to close.

The announcement was made today by Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaiʻi.

The amendment to the fiscal year 2019 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, was approved by voice vote on Tuesday night. It would increase the USGS’ Surveys, Investigations and Research account by $4,798,500.

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During a recent trip to Hawaiʻi Island in her capacity as the Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands, Congresswoman Hanabusa met with USGS staff and learned that they were working out of classrooms or teleworking.

Clear conditions at Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō on July 13, 2018, provided good views into the crater. As the steep crater rim slowly slumps inward and downward, rock rubble fills the base of the vent. PC: USGS

The office provides critical information and analysis about seismic activity, eruptions, and fallout for Hawaiʻi and neighboring island communities.

Congresswoman Hanabusa worked directly with staff at the Volcano Observatory to outline and prioritize their needs. Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) co-sponsored the amendment and worked to ensure passage.

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“The USGS officials responsible for keeping Hawaiʻi and our neighbors aware of earthquakes and eruptions have had their work curtailed by seismic activity that severely damaged their offices at the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Observatory. With the ongoing Kīlauea eruption, their work to inform and help maintain public safety has never been more important. The destruction and unpredictable nature of the eruption means government, the community, and first responders need accurate, detailed information to adequately plan and prepare,” said Congresswoman Hanabusa. “Last month we met with USGS and Volcanoes Observatory staff on Hawaiʻi Island to understand the need and how best to move forward. These funds will help them find the space they need to continue their critical work. Thank you to my colleagues for their support and work on this important amendment.”

“The ongoing eruptions at Kīlauea, and the continued uncertainty for our Puna residents, has brought to the forefront the USGS’s critical role in monitoring activity, and informing and updating Hawaiʻi’s community. I’ve been on the ground with these talented and tireless geologists who work around the clock to monitor and try to anticipate activity, so they can send out real-time updates to people whose lives, homes, farms, and businesses hang in the balance. This funding is urgently needed to allow their critical work to continue,” said Congresswoman Gabbard.

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