Name of Mauna Kea Changed to “Maunakea”

From the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy:

Why have we changed the spelling of Mauna Kea to Maunakea? While the name Mauna Kea (white mountain) is simply descriptive, “Maunakea” is a name that in Native Hawaiian tradition is short for “Mauna a Wākea,” the mountain of Wākea, one of the progenitors of the Hawaiian people. Maunakea is believed to connect the land to the heavens.

By Vadim Kurland – originally posted to Flickr as IMG_2673.JPG, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10580597

The UH Hilo School of Hawaiian Language recommends the one-word spelling, and recently the Office of Maunakea Management started using the one-word spelling (but their abbreviation remains OMKM). According to Stephanie Nagata, director of OMKM, the name Maunakea has been accepted by the official Hawai‘i Board on Geographic Names, and the federal government has also accepted the name change, so new maps will now use the one-word name.

HVO Raises Aviation Color Code for Mauna Loa

HVO seismic stations continue to record elevated rates of shallow, small-magnitude earthquakes beneath Mauna Loa’s summit, upper Southwest Rift Zone, and west flank. For at least the past year, the rate of shallow earthquakes has varied but overall has remained above the long-term average. During this same time period, HVO has measured ground deformation consistent with recharge of the volcano’s shallow magma storage system.

Together, these observations indicate the volcano is no longer at a background level of activity. Accordingly, HVO is elevating the Mauna Loa alert level to ADVISORY and the aviation color code to YELLOW.

Aviation Level
This increase in alert level does not mean that an eruption is imminent or that progression to an eruption is certain.

Shallow earthquakes are occurring in locations similar to those that preceded Mauna Loa’s two most recent eruptions in 1975 and 1984; however, the energy release of the recent earthquakes remains comparatively low. The current rate and pattern of ground deformation is similar to that measured during inflation of Mauna Loa in 2005, an episode of unrest that did not end in an eruption.

It is possible that, as in 2005, the present heightened activity will continue for many months, or even years, without progressing to an eruption. It is also possible that the current unrest is a precursor to an eruption, as was the case prior to eruptions in 1975 and 1984. At this early stage of unrest, we cannot determine which of these possibilities is more likely.

HVO continues to monitor the volcano closely and will report any significant changes.

Stay informed about Mauna Loa by following volcano updates and tracking current monitoring data on the HVO web page (http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/maunaloastatus.php) or by signing up to receive updates by email at this site: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vns/

Kīpukapuaulu, Nāmakanipaio, and Mauna Loa Now Open

The popular forested trail at Kīpukapuaulu (known locally as “Bird Park”), Nāmakanipaio campground, and Mauna Loa summit and backcountry within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are now open.

Park rangers report that the Mauna Loa Cabin and other areas in the Mauna Loa backcountry within Hawai‘i Voclanoes National Park sustained little or no damage as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. NPS Photo/Talmadge Magno

Park rangers report that the Mauna Loa Cabin and other areas in the Mauna Loa backcountry within Hawai‘i Voclanoes National Park sustained little or no damage as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. NPS Photo/Talmadge Magno

Mauna Loa Road is open to hikers and pedestrians, but is currently closed to vehicles.  Visitors who want to access Mauna Loa trail, the summit, and Pu‘u‘ula‘ula (Red Hill) or Mauna Loa cabins, must obtain a backcountry permit at the Visitor Emergency Operations Center. A gate code for Mauna Loa Road will be provided with the permit. Call 808-985-6178 for information.

“We’re delighted to report that most of the places visitors typically visit within the national park are now open,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our park crews mobilized quickly, safely, and efficiently to reopen as much of the park as possible following Hurricane Iselle,” she said.

All coastal trails and coastal backcountry campsites are open within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Nāpau and Kūlanaokuaiki campsites and Pepeiao Cabin are also open. Power has been restored, and most phones are working throughout the park. Kīlauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum have returned to normal operating hours.

Hurricane Iselle, which was downgraded to a tropical storm, snapped trail signs off posts in some areas, and damaged park resources, including a historic home at ‘Āinahou, and a greenhouse used to propagate endangered plants. Potential damage to fencing in remote areas and the coastal nesting sites of the endangered hawksbill turtle are still being assessed.

Hiker Caught in Hawaii Snowstorm is Rescued from Mauna Loa

Park rangers rescued a lone hiker Thursday morning who was  stranded on Mauna Loa after a winter snowstorm pummeled  the summit and lower elevations with heavy snow and high winds.

Search-and-rescue pilot David Okita shows snow-covered Mauna Loa and the cindercone Pohaku o Hanalei in foreground, near where Sverdlov was spotted. Snow-covered Mauna Kea is seen in the distance.

Search-and-rescue pilot David Okita shows snow-covered Mauna Loa and the cindercone Pohaku o Hanalei in foreground, near where Sverdlov was spotted. Snow-covered Mauna Kea is seen in the distance.

Last Sunday, New York resident Alex Sverdlov, 36, began the grueling 18-mile trek from the top of Mauna Loa Road at 6,662 feet towards the summit of Mauna Loa. He reached the 13,677-foot summit on Tuesday, after dropping off his heavy gear at a lower elevation.  The snowstorm struck on his late-afternoon descent, creating a blinding white-out. Night fell, and after a few futile attempts to locate his pack, Sverdlov decided to hunker down in the snow until daylight. His only protection was the clothes he had on, and a bottle of frozen water.

Earlier Tuesday, park management closed the mountain to visitors because of the dangerous weather. Sverdlov was the only registered hiker, and park rangers tried unsuccessfully to call his cell phone. They drove up Mauna Loa Road, and confirmed his car was there. When Sverdlov’s car was still there Wednesday afternoon, Park Ranger John Broward decided to search for him by helicopter Thursday morning. Sverdlov was located by 9 a.m.

Rescued hiker Alex Sverdlov (middle) stands with his rescuers, park ranger John Broward (right) and park ranger Tyler Paul (left) outside the park's Visitor Emergency Operations Center on Thursday.  NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

Rescued hiker Alex Sverdlov (middle) stands with his rescuers, park ranger John Broward (right) and park ranger Tyler Paul (left) outside the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center on Thursday. NPS Photo/J.Ferracane

“I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” said Sverdlov, an experienced hiker who successfully summited Mauna Loa last winter. After locating his pack Wednesday morning, the deep snow made it impossible to gain much ground, and he spent a second frozen night on the mountain. Sverdlov worried that he’d die on Mauna Loa, and was astonished when he heard the helicopter.

“Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park,” said Broward, who serves as the park’s search-and-rescue coordinator. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We’re all fortunate this had a happy ending.”

On Thursday afternoon, his face sun-burned and wind-whipped, Sverdlov applied for another backcountry permit, for the park’s remote coastal area. “This time I’m going to the sunny part of the park,” he said.

Crewmember Participants Sought for Space Exploration Analog Studies

Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are seeking crewmembers for a new series of space exploration analog studies. The new studies aim to:

  • Test a hypothesis that group cohesion over the short term predicts team performance over the long term.
  • Observe how technical, social and task roles evolve over long-duration missions.
  • Establish baselines for a wide range of human cognitive, social and emotional factors over missions of varying durations.
HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

These types of studies are essential for NASA to understand how teams of astronauts will perform on long-duration space exploration missions, such as those that will be required for human travel to Mars. The studies will also allow researchers to recommend strategies for crew composition for such missions, and to determine how best to support such crews while they are working in space.

More Photos available through the HI-SEAS website.

More Photos available through the HI-SEAS website.

The upcoming missions will be conducted at the Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) site, an isolated Mars-like environment on the slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawai‘i at approximately 8,200 feet above sea level. Crewmember participants will live in the same modern geodesic dome habitat that successfully supported a NASA-funded Mars food study that garnered national media attention in 2013 ( for more information about that mission, please see http://hi-seas.org).

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

Key Dates (note that dates are subject to change):

Mission A: Feb 2014 – June 2014 (4 mos)
Mission B: Aug 2014 – Apr 2015 (8 mos)
Mission C: June 2015 – May 2016 (12 mos)

About the Study: 
The upcoming missions are focused on evaluating the social, interpersonal and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time. Researchers from outside of the space analog habitat will monitor each mission to evaluate the communications strategies, crew work load and job sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches that contribute to the success of a long-duration mission.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

Like the astronaut mission specialists they will represent, each participant will be expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat – for instance, biological or geological field research, engineering design and technology evaluation, scholarly writing, or artistic endeavors compatible with the limitations of small living quarters in an isolated location with limited internet bandwidth.

Subjects will be compensated for their participation and for associated travel and housing costs. Successful applicants will be placed into a pool from which researchers will assemble three well-balanced teams for the various study periods.

Requirements: 
Applicants must be between 21 and 65 years of age. They must be tobacco-free, able to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination, and able to understand, speak and write fluently in English. They must meet the basic requirements of the NASA astronaut program (i.e. an undergraduate degree in a science or engineering discipline, three years of experience or graduate study, etc.); in addition, they will be evaluated for experience considered valuable in the program, such as experience in complex operational environments. Pre-screening will be carried out by a panel of experts who are familiar with the astronaut selection process, but who are not involved in the rest of the study.

Candidates selected for further evaluation and screening will be contacted by e-mail to schedule a screening. There will be no charge to applicants for any screening procedures, and no risks in these procedures over and above those of daily life.

How to Apply: 
The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013. Instructions for applicants are posted at http://hi-seas.org.

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org

Visiting Hikers Find Man Lost on Mauna Loa

Units from Puainako Training Area (PTA) Fire Department and Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) responded to the Mauna Loa Access Road for a report of a lost hiker.

Mauna Loa Access Road

Mauna Loa Access Road

Upon arrival, fire units contacted visiting hikers who reported trying to assist a 62 year-old Honolulu man who had become lost trying to make his way down the Mauna Loa trail.

Units from PTA Fire  located the lost party approximately 2 miles from the weather station. The hiker was treated for cold weather exposure, hypothermia, dehydration at the scene and transported to Hilo Medical Center via HFD Medic Unit.

New Study Explains Connection Between Hawaii’s Dueling Volcanoes

A new study will be released that helps to explain the connection between Mauna Loa and Kilauea:

A new Rice University-led study finds that a deep connection about 50 miles underground can explain the enigmatic behavior of two of Earth’s most notable volcanoes, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa and Kilauea. The study, the first to model paired volcano interactions, explains how a link in Earth’s upper mantle could account for Kilauea and Mauna Loa’s competition for the same deep magma supply and their simultaneous “inflation,” or bulging upward, during the past decade.

NPS Photo

The study appears in the November issue of Nature Geoscience. The research offers the first plausible model that can explain both the opposing long-term eruptive patterns at Mauna Loa and Kilauea—when one is active the other is quiet—as well as the episode in 2003-2007 when GPS records showed that each bulged notably due to the pressure of rising magma. The study was conducted by scientists at Rice University, the University of Hawaii, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

“We know both volcanoes are fed by the same hot spot, and over the past decade we’ve observed simultaneous inflation, which we interpret to be the consequence of increased pressure of the magma source that feeds them,” said lead author Helge Gonnermann, assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University. “We also know there are subtle chemical differences in the lava that each erupts, which means each has its own plumbing that draws magma from different locations of this deep source.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-hawaii-dueling-volcanoes.html#jCp

NASA’s G-III Finishes Hawaii Volcano Radar Study

NASA’s Gulfstream III environmental research aircraft returned to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Jan. 14 following an eight-day deployment to Hawaii. Five science flights totaling more than 31 hours allowed scientists to collect radar imaging data about volcanoes intended to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface.

This ground-level photo of the Halema’uma’u Crater of the Kilauea volcano was taken by a member of the NASA JPL / Dryden research team during a day off from the radar imaging missions. Although lava is not flowing from this crater, smoke and steam continue to rise into the air above the caldera. Lava continues to flow from Kilauea's east rift zone, the most active part of Kilauea, as it has since 1983. (NASA / Troy Asher)

The airborne study was conducted from an altitude of 40,000 feet using the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted in a pod under the aircraft. The study focused on the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, the state’s most active volcano, although science data flight lines were flown over nearby volcanoes including Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kohala.

NASA research pilot Troy Asher reported that good weather and the reliability of the aircraft and the radar equipment enabled the research team to accomplish virtually all of their planned science data collection flight lines.

“We had one day off, and used that time to do a little touring on the island to see firsthand some of what we were observing from 40,000 feet,” he added.

The UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry that sends pulses of microwave energy from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth’s surface. The radar data collected during the mission will be analyzed over the next few weeks to determine if significant ground movement or deformation is occurring in the active volcanic areas.

The UAVSAR’s first data acquisition over this region took place in January 2010. Assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, flights over the volcano were repeated in May 2011. Those two sets of observations successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea’s east rift zone.

Diversion of Lava Flows by Aerial Bombing — Lessons from Mauna Loa Volcano

The folks over at the Pacific Aviation Museum just posted this on Facebook and I thought it needed to be given a bit more attention.

I always thought that the lava flows were pretty much unstoppable but this seems to prove otherwise.

I would have no problem with the military dropping a few bombs above Hilo if it meant saving the entire town!

…Explosives were first suggested as a means to divert lava flows threatening Hilo, Hawaii during the eruption of 1881. They were first used in 1935, without significant success, when the Army Air Force bombed an active pahoehoe channel and tube system on Mauna Loa’s north flank. Channel walls of a Mauna Loa flow were also bombed in 1942, but again there were no significant effects. The locations of the 1935 and 1942 bomb impact areas were determined and are shown for the first time, and the bombing effects are documented. Three days after the 1942 bombing the spatter cone surrounding the principal vent partially collapsed by natural processes, and caused the main flow advancing on Hilo to cease movement. This suggested that spatter cones might be a suitable target for future lava diversion attempts

You can read the full abstract here: Diversion of Lava Flows by Aerial Bombing – Lessons from Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaii.

Aqua/AIRS Carbon Dioxide with Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Overlaid

This visualization is a time-series of the global distribution and variation of the concentration of mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the NASA Aqua spacecraft. For comparison, it is overlain by a graph of the seasonal variation and interannual increase of carbon dioxide observed at the Mauna Loa, Hawaii observatory.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Scientific Visualization Studio

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