Volcano Watch: Turn to the USGS and other trusted sources for Kīlauea eruption info

(Volcano Watch is a weekly article written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.)

At about 07:00 a.m. HST, Fissure 17 as shown from the air. The HVO field crew reported that the spattering height and intensity at Fissure 17 seemed to have intensified slightly from yesterday, but the length of active spattering in the fissure is shorter. The overall vigor of Fissure 17 appears to have dropped over the past two days, accompanying a stalling of the Fissure 17 flow front. Photo taken Thursday, May 17, 2018 courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

At about 07:00 a.m. HST, Fissure 17 as shown from the air. The HVO field crew reported that the spattering height and intensity at Fissure 17 seemed to have intensified slightly from yesterday, but the length of active spattering in the fissure is shorter. The overall vigor of Fissure 17 appears to have dropped over the past two days, accompanying a stalling of the Fissure 17 flow front. Photo taken Thursday, May 17, 2018 courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

False rumors about the ongoing volcanic activity at the summit and lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano are causing unnecessary anxiety and confusion. We encourage everyone to check the source of any information you read or hear to be sure that it’s factual, accurate, and timely.

Particularly disturbing are individuals who take a kernel of truth (for example, data from vetted scientific papers), twist it into a lump of misinformation, and then present a skewed view of that data as fact. Please beware of spurious reports, and don’t believe everything you read on social media—unless it’s posted by a known and trusted source.

So, where can you get the straight facts about what’s currently happening on Kīlauea? Here are some reliable sources of information:

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) website (volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatori…), where you can find daily eruption updates, photos, videos, webcams, and maps. In addition to the daily updates, we have also been posting Status Reports, Information Statements, and Volcano Activity Notices as warranted.

If you prefer to receive HVO’s updates and other notices automatically via email, check out the USGS Volcano Notification Service. You can sign up for this free service at volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns/.

If you don’t have access to the website, you can call 808-967-8862 to hear a recorded summary update for Kīlauea.

Back to HVO’s website, there’s a new tab labeled “2018 Activity” in the menu at the top of the homepage. Click that tab to open a list of numerous resources related to the current summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity.

Also, take a look at the “HVO News” section in the lower left corner of HVO’s homepage. There, you will find information that dispels some of the more egregious rumors. For example, check out the news item that provides facts about the stability of Kīlauea’s south flank and addresses the possibility of a flank collapse and tsunami (you will feel more at ease after reading it). There’s also a report about explosion hazards at the summit of Kīlauea, as well as a timeline of Kīlauea events since late April 2018.

Other U.S. Geological Survey websites are also great resources. The USGS Volcanic Ash Impacts and Mitigation website (volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanic_as…) provides a wealth of information about what to do and how to protect yourself, buildings, plants, and animals if you are in the path of falling ash.

As you can imagine, interest in HVO’s website has skyrocketed. With nearly continuous seismic activity at Kīlauea’s summit and lower East Rift Zone, HVO’s earthquake page has been overwhelmed at times. If/when that happens, you can still get Hawai‘i earthquake information through the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) at earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquake…. Scroll across the NEIC map until you see Hawai‘i, then zoom in. Change the settings to your preference, and you’ll be able to track earthquake activity across the island.

If you prefer to get information via social media, check out the USGS Volcanoes Facebook page (www.facebook.com/USGSVolcanoes) and USGS Volcanoes Twitter. USGS scientists are keeping readers up to date on Kīlauea, as well as other U.S. volcanoes.

Many readers are likely familiar with the Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard (vog.ivhhn.org/), which provides comprehensive information about vog (volcanic air pollution). Note that two new links have been added to this website to address ash hazards from the Kīlauea summit explosions and the ongoing eruption on Kīlauea’s lower East Rift Zone.

Residents and visitors can receive timely notifications about emergency situations in the County of Hawai‘i, including the current volcanic activity, through the Civil Defense Emergency Notification System. You can sign up for these notices at countyofhawaii.bbcportal.com.

As volcanic activity at Kīlauea’s summit and East Rift Zone continues, we encourage you to stay informed through trusted sources and to help your friends and family get the straight facts. Also, please be safe out there—heed all warnings and stay out of closed areas.

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