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My Experience at the CSAV Summer Course

Salvatore Giammanco
(Instituto Geochimica dei Fluidi - C.N.R., Palermo, ITALY)

Training volcanologists is a very difficult task. Such a sentence is not as obvious as it may appear at a first glance. Difficulties arise not only in finding good teachers, but also in finding active volcanoes to be easily studied in the field. Volcanology, in fact, is a subject which cannot be fully understood without diving deep into the field experience. Unfortunately, of the hundreds of active volcanoes today present on Earth, only a few are located in areas that are easily reachable by airplane, car or other comfortable means of transport. Furthermore, only a very small number among these allow scientists to closely and safely follow their activity. is probably the best example of a "laboratory-volcano" because apart from its logistic facilities, it has a very high eruptive rate (we have just celebrated its 11th year of practically continuous eruption). Therefore, it was obvious to choose it as a site for a school where future volcanologists coming from all parts of the world can learn how to study the "life" of an active volcano. Hawai'i is the ideal place for such a school also due to its geographical and geopolitical position, as it is located half-way between the U.S.A. and countries of the far-East, such as Japan, that have lots of active volcanoes and also many experienced volcanologists who can easily meet in Hawai'i and thus give their contribution to the school. Since 1990, the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) at UH Hilo takes care of organizing summer courses in volcanology for foreign post-graduate students. An admirable effort has been made by the local staff and based on my personal experience, I think that the results so far obtained are worth it. Attending the CSAV courses, many young volcanologists can have the opportunity of learning how to better study these extraordinary expressions of the power of nature in order to correctly interpret their "language" of earthquakes, tremors, ground deformation, gaseous "breaths" and other often faint signs that could tell us when an eruption might occur and how strong it might be. Needless to say, millions of people around the world live today in areas subject to high volcanic hazard. This must stimulate us to always do our best in order to improve our knowledge in this field; initiatives such as the CSAV summer course are therefore welcome and deeply appreciated. And then, what place on Earth would be nicer than Hawai'i to attend school?

reprinted from the Hawaii Center for Volcanology Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 1, December 1994

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