Earth scientists share expertise in international volcanology training course

Every year since 1990, technicians and scientists from developing countries with active volcanoes have come to Hawai‘i for a 6-week course to learn the latest volcano-monitoring techniques. The course is run by the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), based out of the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Hilo, and led by Don Thomas, faculty member at the UH Mānoa Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP).

This year, Nicole Lautze (HIGP) and Scott Rowland (Department of Earth Sciences), researchers in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, shared their expertise in physical volcanology and remote sensing with participants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and The Philippines.

The CSAV International Training Program is designed to assist developing nations in attaining self-sufficiency in monitoring volcanoes. The field training emphasizes volcano monitoring methods, both data collection and interpretation, in use by the U.S. Geological Survey and participants are taught how to use and maintain volcano monitoring instruments.

Hawaiian volcanoes are among the most active in the world, but unlike violently explosive volcanoes they can be approached and studied without significant risk. As a result, CSAV provides the ideal environment for practicing volcano monitoring techniques.

In addition to learning to assess volcanic hazards, participants learn the interrelationship of scientists, governing officials, and the news media during volcanic crises.

The course is not geared towards academics, but rather, addresses working in a crisis response mode, focusing on forecasting and rapid response to save lives and property. Since 1990, the program has trained over 250 scientists and technicians, from 30 countries.

CSAV was established by the Hawai’i State Legislature in 1989 and is a collaborative program among HIGP, the UH Hilo Department of Geology, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the UH Mānoa Department of Earth Sciences.